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" The public, however, without troubling itself as to whether 
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Intended for her alone, will be delighted to have the oppor- 
tunity of reading a series of letters as characteristic, as 
outspoken, and as passionate as those addressed by Keats, when 
he, too, was on the point of death, to Fanny Brown."— »«. 
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More years ago than I care to remember I was travel- 
ling by road in Northern Italy, in the company of 
that accomplished scholar, critic, and novelist, Mr. 
George Meredith ; and one fine afternoon in autumn 
we entered, by fche upper road, the interesting and 
romantic town of Bergamo. All tourists are familiar 
with the exquisite beauty and extent of the views that 
stretch on every side from the heights of Bergamo ; 
and Mr. George Meredith expatiated with true 
poetic fervour on the magnificence of the vista, on 
the south side : reaching as the view does to the 
Alps and the Apennines beyond the plains of Lom- 
bardy, and revealing the towers of Monza, of Cre- 
mona, and of Milan. 

" I love Bergamo — I will live in Bergamo — I will 
die in Bergamo," cried Mr. George Meredith, who, 
for the first time was revelling in the enchanting 

I quietly told ray enthusiastic friend that I knew 
Bergamo very well, and that although it was 
certainly a city commanding extremely picturesque 
views, it was otherwise an exceedingly dirty place, 
reeking with the most objectionable odours, and not 


at all the kind of town (for an Englishman, at least), 
either to live in or to die in. 

These remarks concerning Bergamo are to betaken, 
if you please, as a preface to a preface. I have 
been asked to say a few words concerning Clare 
Brune's translation of "La Dogaressa in Venezia," 
by Professor Melmonti; and I resolved that my 
prefatory remarks should be about Venice as 
a city much affected by English travellers ; but no 
sooner had I begun to recall my memories of 
the Adriatic, to conjure up mind-pictures of the 
Piazzo San Marco and the Molo, of the Eialto, 
and the Salute, of the Dogana and the Lido, than 
the incident of Mr. George Meredith at Bergamo 
recurred to me. The poet after all is Prophet 
as well as King ; and Mr. Meredith had a right to 
extol Bergamo before he knew it : for, similarly, I 
loved Venice long before ever I stepped into a gondola 
or wandered under the arcades of the Procuratie ; 
I loved the City in the Sea for years ere beholding it ; 
and I love it now. I should like to live there in 
the spring and the autumn. I should like to die 
there, and be carried in a gondola to the Island of 
Tombs ; but that there is a far more beautiful rest- 
ing-place for one's mortal coil in Italy : the Protes- 
tant Cemetery, hard by the Pyramid of Caius Sestius 
and the wall of Rome. 

Yes, I love Venice; and since I have read *' The 
Dogaressa*' I have sat night after night turning 
over a portfolio full of photographs of the stones of 
Venice, and engravings after Canaletto and Guardi 


depicting the Yenice of the past. A very quaint 
Venice is the Queen of the Adriatic as she is 
portrayed by the two great artists just named. At 
the outset, the full-bottomed periwigs and scarlet 
gowns of the Councillors, the booped petticoats 
of the ladies, and the embroidered coats, silk 
stockings and high-heeled shoes of the Venetian 
nobility seem in sad dissonance with the Byzantine 
architecture and the mosaics of San Mark, and 
with the stately lines of the Palladian palaces 
on the Canalazzo ; but by degrees you grow 
accustomed to these strange contrasts. You can 
bring yourself even to tolerate a gondolier with a 
pigtail : for among the charms of Venice is her 
capacity for absorbing and subordinating everything 
to her own beauty, and harmonizing with herself the 
meanest and commonest of her surroundings. When 
I was last in Venice, two or three years ago, that 
dreadful aquatic abomination, a steam launch, had 
just made its first appearance on the Grand Canal. 
I can hear it in imagination, and with horror, now 
panting and puffing, clacking and sputtering, and 
snorting ; but I haye no doubt that when I return to 
the beloved city I shall find that something has been 
done by the invisible influence of Venice herself to 
soften and refine and take off the rough edges of the 
steam launch. Extinguish the fire of its paltry 
little boiler ; dismantle it, and haul it up high and 
dry into a Venetian boat-builder's yard ; and I really 
think that in process of time a coarse cockney craft 
would suffer '* a sea change " and turn into a gon- 


dola. I contend that Venice has the power of making 
the commonest things picturesque and poetic. That 
railway bridge over the lagoons is not like any 
other railway bridge that I am aware of. It ex- 
torted admiration once, about twenty years ago, 
from an English commercial traveller in the 
bristles line of business with whom I was travelling 
from Padua. It was midnight when we sighted the 
city. " What a wiaduct, sir ! '' he remarked, " and 
how them lights in the distance shine ! " To earn 
the eulogy of a commercial traveller in the bristles 
line of business is a thing indeed to be proud of. And 
then I return again and again to the photographs and 
engravings of the Venice of bygone times : I dismiss 
the periwigged Councillors; the ladies in hoops; the 
beaux in broidered coats and silken hose and high- 
heeled shoes ; the sly -looking ahhati in sable cassocks 
and shovel hats. They fade away ; and I re-people 
the deserted halls and stanze, the long-drawn arcades, 
the narrow footways which border the canals, the laby- 
rinth of darksome lanes which stretch from the 
Merceria to the Rialto ; I populate these cari luoghi 
with the Venetians of the mighty past, when the 
Doges were amongst the most potent princes in 
Europe ; when the Republic, although self-styled 
Serene, was chronically bellicose and aggressive. I 
seethe Venice of blind old Dandolo; I see the 
Venice that Dante drew — 

** Quale nelP arzaii& de' Viniziani 
BoUe I'inverno la tenace pece 
A rimpalmar li legni lor non sani 


Che navicar non ponno : e'n quella vece 
Chi fa suo legno nuovo, e chi ristoppa 
Le coste a quel che piii viaggi fece ; 
Chi ribatte da proda, e chi da poppa' ; 
Altri fa remi, e altri volge sarte ; 
Chi terzeruolo ed artimon rintoppa ; 
Tal, non per fuoco, ma per divina arte, 
BoUia laggiuso una pegola spessa.'* 

And then I turn to a picture of the Giant's 
Staircase ; and I see the block and the headsman 
and Marino Faliero doomed to death, and ere he 
dies fiercely cursing the city and her serpent seed. 
Well may English folk love Yen ice, if only for the 
sake of noble Era Paolo Sarpi, who, when religious 
intolerance was at its height in Italy, did not 
hesitate to minister to a Protestant Englishman 
sick unto death. But there are a score more ties 
which bind us to Venice. In no country are the 
pictures of Canaletto so highly appreciated as they 
are in England ; and it is pleasant to remember that 
one of the earliest patrons of the great Venetian 
painter was the English Consul at Venice, and that 
when Canaletto came to England he found a more 
illustrious patron and friend in the Dake of 
Northumberland, for whom he painted the splendid 
pictures of "Charing Cross" and "Whitehall," 
which are now at Sion House. Venice is further 
endeared to us by the noble poetry of Byron and 
Eogers, by the sumptuous pictures of Turner and 
Stanfield, of Holland and Clara Montalba. It is 
just twenty-two years since I first took up my abode 
at the Hotel Victoria in Venice ; and I suppose that 


I have been there some fifteen or sixteen times, 
staying sometimes for a week, sometimes for 
months together, so that I know the stones of the 
Broglio very well. I remember Venice when she 
was held in thraldom by the Austrians; and in 
1866 I witnessed her liberation from the yoke of 
the Tedeschi, and the coming of "Victor Emmanuel 
into the new State added to the kingdom of Italy. 
The Doges and Dogesses, to whom the reader will 
be introduced by Clare Brune, will be, no doubt, 
very attractive personages ; and the pictures drawn 
by Professor Melmonti of Venetian life and manners 
at the most brilliant period of her history cannot 
fail to be greatly attractive and deeply interesting. 
But although, from a picturesque and sentimental 
point of view, one may deplore the decadence and 
collapse of the Serene Republic, the effacement of the 
Doges and their spouses, and the breaking up of the 
Bucentaur, on higher and manlier grounds it is a 
matter to rejoice over that Venice as a Dominion of 
the Kingdom of Italy, under the constitutional sway 
of Humbert of Savoy at present possesses a greater 
amount of freedom than ever was her lot before. 

G. A. S. 



I. Introductory ... 1 

II. The Huns— The Women of Aquileia and Padua— The Exiles of 
Altinum — Lives of the Settlers on the Lagoons — The Doings 
of the Women— First Effigy of the Dogaressa— The Wife of 
the Doge Orbelerio — The Brides of the Participazios ... 4 

III. The Dogaressa Gualdrada Candiano — The Dogaressa Felicia 

Orseolo — The Wife of the Doge Tribune Memmo — The 
Morosinos and Caloprinos — Festivities in Honour of the 
Nuptials of the Dogaressa Maria Orseolo — The Wife of the 
Doge Otho Orseolo 22 

IV. The Dogaressa Theodora Silvio — The Dogaressa Felicia Michiele 

— The Crusades and the Venetian People — Religious Feeling 
— The Conquest of Constantinople ... ... ... ... 41 

V. Constance, Daughter of King Tancred, and Wife of the Doge, 
Peter Ziani — Chivalry and Women — The Venetian Women in 
the East 60 

VI. The Marriages of the Tiepolos — The Dogaressa in the ^ro- 

missione Ducale — Loicia da Prata, Wife of the Doge Einiero 
Zeno — Coronation of the Dogaressa Marchesina Tiepolo — The 
Wife of Peter Gradenigo — The Power of the Nobility ... 78 

VII. The Conspiracies in Venice in the 14th Century — Soranza 

Soranzo — The Legend of Marino Faliero 91 

VIII. A Plebeian Woman on the Throne of the Doges — The Dogaressa 

in the Promissione 109 

IX. Art and Women in the 15th and 16th Centuries 118 

X. The Venetian Woman and the Literature of the 15th and 16th 

Centuries 138 

XI. Luxury and the Life of Woman — The Dogaressa and the 

Sumptuary Laws — Solemn Progress of the Dogaressa ... 156 
XII. The Dogaressa in the 15th Century — Marina Steno — Marina 

Foscari — Giovanna Malipiero — Dea Tron — The Wife of 

Nioolo Marcello — Taddea Mocenigo — Lucia Barbarigo ... 170 



XIII. Bxoessive Luxury of the 16th Century — Solemn Coronation of 

Zilia Priuli — Laws respecting the Suite and Court of the 
Dogaressa — The Dogaressa Loredano Mocenigo — Her Obse- 
quies — The Widow of the Doge Sebastian Veuiero 191 

XIV. The Dogaressa Morosina Grimani 212 

XV. The Seventeenth Century — Arts and Literature — Provisions for 

moderating Luxury and forbidding the Dogaressa's Corona- 
tion — Solemn Entry of the Wife of the Doge, Sylvester 
Valerio — New Decrees respecting the Ceremonies for the 

Dogaressa ,. 228 

XVI. Venetian Decadence — Salons — The Patrician Flirts 246 

XVII. The Dogaressas Lauia Comaro and Pisana Mocenigo— The 

Family of the Doge Mocenigo 259 

XVIII. A Dogaressa, formerly a Ballet-dancer — The Last Dogaressa ... 273 



In the early history of Yenice woman plays a very 
unimportant part. 

The valiant and energetic men of the Lagoons 
could ill brook that their women should dare to vie 
with, or in any way surpass them. 

These men never admitted their female relations 
to share their secret thoughts, or to take part in 
public affairs. 

Indeed, female virtues could not then, in any 
way, have advanced the interests of the Republican 
Government. It would, under serious circum- 
stances, have been injurious to its independence, 
had affection ruled the minds of men, the heart 
predominated over the judgment, imagination pre- 
vailed over reason, or feeling over justice. 

Neither facts nor inductions enable us to throw 
much light upon the lives of the ancient Venetian 



ladies, gentle and retiring women, who ended 
peacefully the days spent in obscurity. The men 
of that epoch found in the outside world strife, in 
their homes, peace. 

Woman was at that time kept in ignorance of 
mens lives, and of her own power. When early 
dissensions ceased, then all aimed at the common 
welfare of their country, which, in a short time, 
became rich, powerful, and respected. Venice then 
sent her patrician ladies to form alliances with 
foreign princes, with a view to protect her own 
interests and to extend the greatness of the Re- 
public. Thus, far away, under other skies, appear 
the pale faces of sad and beautiful women. 

After those glorious times, followed a period of 
luxury and pleasure, and women then appear amidst 
splendid fetes and ceremonies, in the Piazza, display- 
ing their brocades and jewels. Their secret thoughts 
and aspirations and their lives are to us a blank, 
forming, in appearance, a complete contrast to those 
of the men, always agitated by ambitious designs. 

When Venice thoughtlessly advanced towards 
her ruin, we share in their confidences, and are 
almost on a familiar footing with her women, they 
then reveal frankly the secrets of their gay lives, 
and we see them keeping open house in their elegant 
saloons, entertaining their guests with piquant 
conversation, and even dabbling occasionally in 

The mystery surrounding the Venetian lady of 


early times renders her doubly attractive to us, and 
it may therefore not prove a useless task if we 
endeavour to rescue from oblivion the names and 
lives of a few of those ladies known as the wives of 
the Doges, who, by their position, were able to im- 
press upon the usages of those days a semblance 
of courtesy and refinement. 

The Dogaressa will serve as a pretext for bring- 
ing into prominence the life led by Venetian ladies 
in general, which, although hidden from the world 
at large, is worth studying in connection with the 
history of a Republic where intellect played so 
important a part, of a State governed not only by 
bravery, but also by mental acumen, and of a 
country where the Fine Arts shed such a refulgent 

Unheeding the din of battle and the bustle of 
commerce, we will turn to the customs of the house- 
hold, where the mild light arising from the domestic 
hearth may illumine for us some secrets of family 

It seems to us that the object of history is not 
only to record great deeds and to chronicle the 
development of Institutions and Governments, but 
also to take note of the forms and ceremonies of 
a period, and thereby to raise particular facts to the 
dignity of a true idea of the character and customs 
of a nation. 


The Huns — The Women op Aqitileia and Padtja — The 
Exiles of Altinxtm — Lives op the Settlers on 
THE Lagoons — The Doings op the Women — First 
Effigy op the Dogaressa — The Wipe op the Doge 
Orbelerio — The Brides op the Participazios. 

In the fifth century the Venetian cities were the 
first to suffer from the invasion of the barbaric 
hordes ; the walls of Aquileia, the capital of the 
country of the Heneti, fell beneath the onslaught 
of the Huns, and flames of devouring fires played 
around the dwellings in the cities of Concordia, 
Altinum, Oderzo, Padua, and Vicenza. The in- 
habitants of the Mediterranean Yenice, in the 
face of such disasters, hastened to seek refuge, at 
first momentarily, and then definitively, on the 
islands of the Lagoons, where the rivers of Upper 
Italy fall into the sea. They had brought all they 
could save with them, and formed an alliance, 
necessary in their miserable circumstances, with 
the fishermen, the labourers, and the boatmen, 
whom they found inhabiting these islets, and they 



became a race of men noted for their bravery, 
success, and endurance, bringing with them new 
customs and fresh ideas. The rehgious traditions 
of Paganism had almost entirely disappeared from 
that early and mysterious life of Venice, and, as a 
promise of happier times, the people sought the 
Heaven of the Virgin and the Saints, and venerated 
with holy fervour the relics of martyrs to the 
Christian Faith. 

But the women must have felt the need, more 
even than the men, who steeled their minds against 
the hard adversities of those turbulent times, to pour 
out their hearts in acts of devotion, which served, 
together with the ancient and noble records of their 
native land, to soothe their anguish and calm their 
fears. The recollection of the strong-minded women 
of Aquileia was still fresh in their minds — women 
who, when strings failed for the bows used to shoot 
at the army of Massinimo, cut off their hair and 
plaited it into cords as a substitute. Nor was the 
virtue of Arria, the Paduan wife of Caecinna Petus, 
himself a native of Padua, forgotten by the exiles. 
When Csecinna, who had joined in the conspiracy 
of Scribonianus against the Emperor Claudius, was 
being conveyed by sea as a prisoner to Eome, Arria, 
whom misfortune developed into a heroine, besought 
the soldiers to let her embark with her husband. 
Her prayer being rejected, she hired a fishing-boat, 
and followed the vessel to Rome. When, on her 
arrival she understood that Caecinna was to undergo 


capital punishment, she declared that she would 
not survive him ; and when her son-in-law, Trasea 
Petus, expostulated with her, saying, " Should I 
ever be in the same plight, would you wish your 
daughter to sacrifice her life as you propose doing ? "^ 
she replied, *' Yes, indeed I should, if she had lived 
as long in your society, and become as entirely 
identified with you, as I am with my husband." 

To her attendants, who, fearing some misfortune, 
never left her alone, Arria said — 

" You will not succeed, in spite of all your pre- 
cautions; you will only cause me to die more 
miserably ! " 

With these words, she threw herself so violently 
against the wall that she fainted. When she re- 
covered, she exclaimed — 

" Did I not tell you that I should find some means 
of dying ? And if you deprive me of an easy way, 
I will use violence ! " 

When she heard that her husband was allowed to 
choose any kind of death he preferred, she went to 
Caecinna ; and after having bidden him a last fare- 
well, she plunged a dagger into her own heart, and 
then, withdrawing it, exclaimed — 

" Do the same, Petus Cascinna ; it is not painful." 

Other Paduan women of noble courage were the 
wife and the daughter of Trasea Petus, both sus- 
pected by the Caesars, and both driven into exile by 
Tiberius Nero, and bravely defended in the Senate 
by Pliny the younger. 


And amongst later examples of heroism we must 
not omit the name of Degna, a matron of Aquileia, 
who, amidst the carnage and the sacking bj the 
Huns, cast herself in self-defence from the top of 
a tower into the River Natiso. 

But such a glorious list of noble deeds brings 
out in stronger contrast the weakness of female 
minds, scarcely recovered from the terror of barbaric 
incursions. Grrand deeds of female heroism could 
not completely change those pusillanimous minds, 
which turned towards an idealistic mysticism, or 
remembered with terror the perils of the past, or 
lamented the country they had lost; as, for in- 
stance, smiling Altinum, blooming Concordia, and 
Aquileia the beautiful — the last a splendid city re- 
nowned for its riches until the ferocious barbarians 
razed it to the ground. 

Of the subjects talked of by Venetian women in 
the quiet evening hours, we still retain some few 
records in chronicles and legends. Rome, even in 
her decadence, still dominated these people ; and 
ancient deeds and facts were related, embellished 
and quickened by the imaginative powers of the 
narrator. They endeavoured to forget that Italy 
groaned beneath the scourge of the barbarians, 
and the families who had taken refuge in Venice 
treasured the remembrance of their former homes. 
The Heneti or Veneti traced back their origin to 
^neus and the Trojans. They also exaggerated 
the character and appearance of the destroyer of 


the Roman world, and thus Attila's fame was pre- 
served. Little by little they added imaginary and 
fabulous anecdotes respecting him, and around the 
detested name of ''The Scourge of God" were 
grouped wonderful accounts of carnage and devas- 
tation. In contradistinction to the atrocious Hun, 
whose eyes shot forth flames of fire, popular tradi- 
tion placed his formidable rival, Janus, King of 
Padua, describing great aud terrible battles fought 
near Concordia, Altinum, and Padua, and branded 
with infamy the death of Attila, who, taken and 
bound, whilst imploring in vain for his life, ended 
his days ignominiously within the walls of Rimini. 
Upon such fabulous tales, sadly misleading to future 
historians, was based the poem of Attila and his 
redoubtable Italian adversaries, Giano and Foresto, 
related in French verse by ISTicolo Casola in the 
fourteenth century, and afterwards given in the 
popular Venetian dialect in the fifteenth. 

Even the legends, narrated by the chroniclers 
respecting the origin of Venice, evinced clearly the 
lively and ingenuous belief of a people needing God's 
help. According to their heated fancy God visited 
them, illumined their miserable retreats, and com- 
forted them with apparitions and visions. In the 
seventh century the inhabitants of Altinum, 
threatened by the Lombards, after having, with 
tears and prayers, implored the help of Heaven, saw, 
all at once, pigeons and other birds seize their young 
in their beaks and fly away from the town. This 


seemed to them a warning from Heaven, and about 
a third of the inhabitants, preceded by two tribunes, 
Ario and Aratore, besides the clergy, following the 
flight of the birds, made for the islands of the 
Lagoons, and took up their abode in Torcello. Two 
priests, Geminiano and Mauro, comforted the 
fugitives, and the words of God's ministers raised 
the spirits of the desponding ; they were sublimated 
into celestial space and quieted by visions of Heaven. 
A white cloud appeared to Mauro, and the voice of 
•God came down on two sun-rays ordering on that 
very spot, a church to be erected. The soft voice of 
Mary, giving the same command in another place, 
was followed by a wonderful vision ; the white 
clouds separated and blooming shores appeared, 
covered with people, besides flocks and herds. Then 
all disappeared, and the silence was broken by the 
voices of the Apostle Peter, of John the Baptist, of 
the Martyr Antolino, of St. Justina, and of other 
martyrs, who invited the faithful to build churches. 
In Torcello a cathedral soon arose, gloriosissima^ 
jpreziosa ed eccelsa, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, 
and other sacred edifices, juxta prcecepfum of the 
saints, were erected on the neighbouring shores of 
Burano, Maggiorbo, Costanziaco, and Amiano. 

The towers and gates of their much-regretted 
country were thus remembered by the exiles, who, 
amidst the exciting delirium of visions, desired 
fervently to entrust the foundations of their new 
home to the protection of the Almighty. The first 


care of the fugitives on reacbing the islets of the 
Lagoons, was to raise churches, even of the most 
miserable kind, often only protected by a sail, and 
generally built of planks covered with straw and 
rushes. The chroniclers mention neither the piety 
nor religious feelings of the women. According to 
a sacred tradition the first woman eminent for her 
piety was Adriana, wife of Janus, King of Padua, 
the fierce antagonist of Attila ; she is said to have 
founded a monastery on the isles, where arose later 
the city of Venice. This noble woman, having 
escaped from the carnage of the Huns, repaired with 
many ladies of high birth to Rivoalto, and erected 
there a monastery dedicated to the Archangel 
Raphael. " Meras nugas,' exclaimed Cornaro, but 
which reveal the temper of the times and the gentle 
and pious deeds of women, whose lives are sur- 
rounded by a mysterious and poetical halo. 

In the year 727, when a church was erected to 
St. Cassianus, a convent of nuns arose, dedicated 
to St. Cecilia ; less than a century later the Doges 
of the Participazio family, by Divine revelation, 
revelatione Domini nostri omnipotentes, constructed 
the monasteries of St. Hilary and St. Zachariah, 
which soon became very powerful, and obtained, 
subsequently, protection and privileges from Otho 
I. (693), Otho III. (998), Henry 11. (1018), 
Conrad II. (1028), Henry III. (1040). 

Besides the rights granted to St. Zacharias and 
St. Hilary, documents anterior to 1009 attest how 


special immunities were accorded by the State to 
the monasteries of San Giorgio Maggiore, of the 
Saints Cosmo and Damiano^ and of St. Stephen 
d'Altino. Some ancient documents state, besides, 
that on the shore of Malamocco there existed a 
Monastery of Virgins, dedicated to St. Leonard or 
St. Leo, or to St. Basso. The Grecian architects, 
afterwards employed in the Yenetian Islands, for the 
primitive wooden churches, substituted edifices 
adorned with precious ornamentations, and thus in 
the azure vaults of the churches sprang forth the 
dawn of the Fine Arts. 

A popular tradition sets forth that, in 421, the 
house of the Greek architect Entinopo having, 
with many others, been burnt down, the people, in 
order to propitiate the Almighty, made a vow upon 
the spot of the fire, to erect a church dedicated to St. 
James. But either anterior or coeval with this one 
other churches were built, such as those of Saints 
Sergio and Baceo, constructed by Caotorta in 

A chronicle, attributed erroneously by Gallic- 
ciolli to Daniele Barbaro, adds that, " All the islets 
were inhabited hy one or two people, or by relations ^ 
who were really servants^ and hy many friends,^' &c. 

The young city of Venice, rising from such a 
humble origin, continued daily to gain power and 
strength. The life of the men formed a striking 
contrast to that of the women. The former, strong 
in body and brave of heart, found on that inhospit- 


able site, security and vigour, and after struggling 
with and prevailing over all obstacles, they learned 
how dear a thing was life, and they determined to 
enjoy it. Thus the character of the Venetians was 
modified, and habit grown into instinct was handed 
down from generation to generation. 

Towards the end of the sixth century, the Greeks 
having withdrawn their troops from Yenice, the 
Venetians had, unaided, to oppose the Lombards, and 
they displayed, on that occasion, wonderful energy 
and firmness of purpose, joined to marvellous 
courage. In all the vicissitudes of life, they turned 
their thoughts to God, and they sought out amidst 
the ruins of Aquileia and Altinum the richest 
marbles and the most valuable pieces of sculpture 
as ornaments for their places of worship. But in 
the exercise of their religion, they did not forget 
their temporal interests. When their early discords 
had died out, and the constitution of the Tribunes 
was abolished, the Venetians gathered round a chief 
and made the common weal of their new country their 
principal object. On that shifting land, threatened 
constantly with submersion, before those vast 
horizons, fitted to fill the mind with a dreamy sad- 
ness, there arose a nation with well-defined and 
strict ideas, feelings, and aspirations, and whose 
religion was not allowed to thwart their industry. 
From the first they manifested that vigour, which is 
the outgrowth of liberal laws. 

The Venetians, burning with fiery passions and 


noble sentiments, embellished their country, orga- 
nized their army, favoured the progress of their 
Government, attained to greatness by their trade, 
ran in arms to their ports, prospered in their military 
enterprises, and boldly faced the lances of the enemy. 
When by degrees their wild and warlike propensities 
subsided, they then considered the happiness and 
prosperity of their families. Those men who dared 
the perils of the sea must have loved their wives 
who ruled over their households, if not by mental 
superiority, at least by gentleness and the affections 
of the heart. 

The former modest manners of the Venetian 
women, often praised by Latin writers, such as 
Martial, were transferred to their homes in the 
Lagoons. Girls did not marry before they were 
twenty years of age, and widows rarely, if ever, 
married again. Men and women betook themselves 
before dawn to church to say their prayers, called in 
the ritual " Matins," and the brave and learned 
Doge, Peter Caudiano L (887), never failed to be 
present at the religious services, both morning and 
evening. At sunrise and sunset the ringing of a 
bell summoned men to their labour, and then invited 
them to seek rest. At the third hour of the night 
another bell, called the curfew, was sounded, en- 
joining all the population to return to their homes, 
for all traffic in the town was forbidden after that 

The meals were frugal, consisting usually of 


fruit and game ; the dress was simple and generally 
blue in tint, a favourite colour with the Venetians, 
until the fashions of other countries, especially of 
Byzantium, were introduced amongst them. Although 
some deny that commerce and navigation threw the 
Venetians into the arms of the Greeks, thus subject- 
ing them to the greatest power then ruling the 
Mediterranean, it is certain, however, that there 
existed from the first a friendly intercourse between 
Byzantium and Venice, and evident marks of sub- 
jection which lasted a long time. Greek ladies 
became the wives of Venetian nobles, and the Doges 
themselves, invested with the titles of ipati and 
yrotospatari, formed ties of relationship with the 
Emperors. Hence the introduction of Byzantine 
fashions, and the Venetian women began to wear 
sumptuous Eastern costumes. 

About the year 876, Charlemagne, whilst carry- 
ing on a war in Friuli, invited his courtiers on a 
cold, rainy day, to join a hunting party. They 
appeared before the monarch clad in furs and other 
finery which they had purchased from some Venetian 
merchants at Pavia, who had brought this merchan- 
dise from the East, besides the plumes of various 
kinds of birds, such as peacocks, &c., embroidered 
silk gowns, bands of Tyrian purple, cloth of brilliant 
hues, skins of the otter and ermine. All these 
things became part of the rich costumes of the 
Doges' wives and other noble matrons. They wore 
also caps trimmed with gold lace, their dresses 


iitted tight to the figure, and over their shoulders 
hung a mantle with a long train, adorned with gold 
embroidery and with two strips of sable hanging 
from the chest. On the facade of the Church of 
St. Mark, in a mosaic, depicting the bearing of the 
Evangelist's body, appear the Byzantine fashions 
adopted by the ancient matrons of Venice. The 
Doge, followed by a solemn procession, is about to 
enter the church. In a corner to the left of the 
spectator is' a group of ladies, amongst whom one 
sumptuously dressed represents probably the Doga- 
ressa. She wears a crown on her head ; from her 
shoulders depends a long red mantle, with a girdle of 
the same colour, besides a tight-fitting sky-blue 
garment trimmed with embroidery. 

In three centuries that group of islands called by 
diacono Giovanni, a second Venice, to distinguish it 
from the Mediterranean had grown marvellously. 
The gates of Constantinople were opened to the 
Venetians, and the precious merchandise of the 
East was, as we have already mentioned, sold by 
them to the Franks, who had in the eighth century 
conquered Lombardy. The Venetians displayed a 
wonderful activity of mind, and to the cares of 
State and the ardour for commerce was added a 
revival of the arts ; early memoirs speak of metal 
foundries, of organ builders, of goldsmiths, of manu- 
facturers of glass, of stuffs, of carpets, of blacksmiths, 
of cabinet-makers, &c. Ear-rings, bracelets, rings, 
pins, were ornaments most acceptable to the ladies, 


who protected their feet with elegant zanche, adorned 
with lace and embroidery. 

In the ninth century, they were acquainted with 
taffetas, serge, camlet, and in the Italian markets 
the Venetians sold stuffs from Tyre, Damascus, 
Alexandria, and Byzantium. They also superin- 
tended the organization of the city, the consolidating 
of the pavement, and private persons continued ta 
widen and improve the narrow streets. Every- 
where dockyards sprang up, where large boats and 
ships were constructed to float on the Lagoons, and 
far out to sea, thus establishing commercial relations 
and an active interchange of industries with neigh- 
bouring countries and with the East. And not only 
from Oriental climes, but also from France and the 
Italian towns, came women, to form alliances with 
the Yenetians, and they brought into their adopted 
country, rapidly increasing in population and wealth, 
fashions, ideas, and customs hitherto unknown there* 
We must now devote ourselves to the consideration 
of the Dogaressa, who stands, so to say, at the head 
of the Yenetian ladies, as the highest and most per- 
fect type amongst them. 

The first wives of the supreme heads of the State 
who have left any remembrance behind them were 
not Yenetian, and did not always exercise a benefi- 
cent influence on their new country. It is possible, 
however, that tradition perverted historical truth 
when it averred that the Doge Orbelerio was in- 
fluenced by his French wife to make the iniquitous 


proposal of ceding Yenice to the French, thus re- 
pudiating the idea that a Venetian could, unless ill- 
advised, think of betraying his native land. 

There existed in ancient times, in Venice, two 
factions ; one favoured the Greeks, whilst the other 
inclined, from motives of self-interest, to encourage 
the rulers of the neighbouring terra-firma, for it is 
natural to suppose that the fugitives did not always 
lose, even in exile, the possession of their lands. 
Such discords led to certain changes which ended in 
the foundation of modern Venice. In the year 804 
Orbelerio, tribune of Malamocco, was elected Doge 
by the general assembly ; he was turbulent, unde- 
cided, and weak ; he took as his colleague in the 
Government his brother Benedict. 

Orbelerio's wife was of illustrious French origin, 
and she was bestowed upon him, according to some 
writers, by that same Emperor Charles and by Pepin. 
He was scarcely elected Doge when he went with 
Benedict to visit the French chiefs, and formed 
with them secret bonds of friendship. He had been 
incited to this step by his fascinating wife and by 
his brother Benedict, who was jealous of him and 
covertly encouraged the Greeks ; but when a Grecian 
fleet, under the command of Niceta, landed on the 
islands, the Doge altered his tactics and favoured 
the Greeks, who created Orbelerio Spatario, and 
Benedict Ipato. Thus Orbelerio's double-dealing, 
and his procrastination in opposing the Greeks, 
wearied Pepin, who, cutting short all further 


delays, invaded the Venetian territory witli a large 
army and a numerous squadron of ships, destroying 
Heraclea and Tesole, destroying Brondola and 
Chiozzia by fire, and besieging Malamocco, which 
was then the capital. Chronicles and traditions 
cast a poetical halo over this war, and it is related 
that, on the arrival of the French King before 
Malamocco, the inhabitants taking refuge in the 
Kealtum, an old woman, being the only inhabitant 
left in the town, advised the invaders to construct a 
wooden bridge across the water to Realtum. But 
the French horses, when they felt the swaying of the 
tottering bridge, took fright, and jumped into the 
water, breaking the planks and destroying the ropes. 
The old woman, who had merely advised Pepin in 
order to draw him into a trap, and thus to save her 
country, took refuge in Kealtum, and the French 
leader was compelled to accept the conditions of 
peace offered to him. 

All this is a mere fable, but it shows us how 
national tradition endeavoured, by mentioning 
another woman's noble deeds, to counterbalance 
the perfidy of Orbelerio's wife. A foreigner 
plotted against Venice, therefore a Venetian woman 
must save her country. Probably the old dame left 
alone in Malamocco is meant as a type of Venetian 
shrewdness. In times of imminent danger the 
Venetians forgot their private feuds, and both 
rulers and people took refuge in Realtum; when 
the enemy's fleet, having passed the port of Albiola, 
prepared to sail into the waters of the Lagoons, the 


Yenetiaus no doubt removed the stakes marking 
the navigable canals. Pepin finding it impossible 
to conquer the Venetians in their secure fastness of 
Kealtum was compelled to withdraw his forces, and 
to enter into a friendly alliance with the maritime 
Eepublic. According to John Diacono and Dandolo, 
the two Doges were deposed from their thrones and 
exiled. Orbelerio was confined in Constantinople, 
and Dandolo in Zara. At the end of twenty years, 
Orbelerio, aided by the rebels, returned in arms to 
the Lagoons, but John Participazio besieged him in 
Yigilia, and compelled him to surrender. He was 
afterwards beheaded, and his head was carried and 
ignominiously buried on the shore of Malamocco. 
Sanudo relates that some chroniclers assert that 
Orbelerio was taken, and executed, together with 
his French wife. Venice passed by degrees from her 
infancy to blooming youth; the seat of government 
was established at Realtum, where they found 
plenty of occupation. The disorders which disturbed 
the early times of Venetian independence evidenced 
the energy of the people, that need of action and 
that restlessness which seek to bring order out of 
confusion. The first Doge who ruled at Realtum 
was Angelo Participazio (811). Even then the 
rivalities and disputes which always accompany the 
youth of nations were not ended. Thus we see 
Justinian, the son of Angelo Participazio, retiring 
with his wife Felicia, or Felicita, into a cloister 
near St. Severo, because he considered thafc he 
was neglected by his father, who had chosen John, 


his other son, as colleague ; and Justinian remained 
in the convent until Angelo made him his colleague 
instead of John. At that early epoch many of the 
Doges left, either of their own free-will or by 
coercion, the splendours of their throne and the din 
of battle for the silence of the cloister, where they 
assumed the monk's cowl. 

When, in the year 828, Angelo died, and his son 
succeeded him as Doge, the body of St. Mark was 
brought into the new city. The people, after having 
founded a town and an administration, acknowledged 
the Evangelist as their protector, and wishing in a 
measure to subject secular affairs to the protection 
of Heaven, they elected Doges, won victories, and 
concluded treaties of peace in the name of their 
patron saint, and from him they also sought help in 
times of supreme danger. But not even in Rialto 
does woman stand forth in the pages of history^ 
where are only mentioned a few ladies of ducal 
families, as, for instance, the Greek wife of Angelo 
Participazio's nephew, called Romana ; and the 
mother of the Doge Peter Tribuno, called Angela, 
the Doge Peter Candiano I.'s niece. 

We are too much interested in the relation of 
doughty deeds to heed the quiet lives of the women, 
except when they are disturbed by the rape of the 
brides in Olivolo. This episode, although almost of 
a domestic and private character, attracts our atten- 
tion, because it is connected with warlike and com- 
mercial enterprises, with internal rivalries, which at 


that time entirely absorbed the activity of the 

It was their custom to celebrate their matri- 
monial festivities on the day dedicated to the 
removal of the body of St. Mark, viz., on the last day 
of January. The people then assembled in the 
Episcopal Church of Olivolo, where the affianced 
brides, clad in pure white, with their hair hanging 
loose on their shoulders, and wearing all their 
jewels, came, holding in their hands caskets con- 
taining their dowries. 

The Bishop celebrated mass, and then blessed the 
nuptial rites. According to the legend, a party of 
Slavonian pirates, landed stealthily in Olivolo, 
rushed into the cathedral, carried off the women, 
the men, and some say even the bishop, and some of 
the priests, and made for Caorlo, in a creek after- 
wards called " Porto delle donzelle," there to divide 
the brides and the spoil. But the Venetians, 
recovered from their first dismay, rushed to their 
boats, and, with the Doge at their head, overtook 
the pirates, attacked them furiously, and, defeating 
them, returned in triumph with their brides and the 
booty. In commemoration of this victory it was 
decided that the Doge should proceed every year in 
great pomp to the Church of Santa Maria Formosa. 
Twelve poor girls were always to receive dowries on 
that occasion. Thus, after all, one of the first and 
most solemn of Venetian fetes was in honour of 
their women. 


The Dogaressa Gtjalbrada Candiano — The Dogaressa 
Felicia Orseolo — The Wife op the Doge Tribuno 
Memmo — The Morosinos and Caloprinos — Festivi- 
*TiEs IN Honour op the Nuptials of the Dogaressa 
Maria Orseolo — The Wipe op the Doge Otho 

There is such a paucity of documents concerning 
the Dogaressas of early times that we find it impos- 
sible, not only to penetrate the secrets of their 
hearts or learn the history of their lives, but even to 
discover their names. No diligence of research can 
bring to light the female faces, hidden within the 
walls of their homes or wrapped in the gloom of the 
churches. But we may safely infer that not even 
ladies of the highest rank, any more than the wives 
of the Doges, possessed any literary culture, if the 
notary attested rightly at the end of the will of 
Orso, bishop of Olivolo (853), signum manus domino 
excellentissimo Petro (Pietro Tradonico), and if 
amongst the signatures of the chart of the founda- 


tion of the monastery of San Gioroig Maggiore 
(986) one reads signum manus . . . Trihuni ducis 
(Tribune Memmo). 

But as woman has always appeared in times of 
violence and carnage as a comforting angel, it is 
natural to suppose that the lives of the ladies in the 
Doges' families were perturbed, by anxieties and. 
tears. From 697 to 864 twelve Doges succeeded to 
the Dogeship, and amongst them Teodato Tpato, 
who wished to rule alone, was blinded by the people, 
Galla was exiled, Maurizio Galbaio was sent into 
banishment with his son, Orbelerio expiated his 
treachery by death, John Participazio I. was com- 
pelled to retire to a monastery, and Peter Tradonico 
was massacred in the open street. 

Under the Dogate of the latter (836-864) there 
arose in the middle of the town bloody quarrels 
between the Polani and Guistiuiani, the Barozzi on 
one side, and the Barbolani, the Iscoli, and the 
Selvos on the other ; and peace was only made 
when, by command of the Council, the rival 
families formed ties of relationship. History men- 
tions in the latter half of the tenth century a 
remarkable woman who, though overtaken by the 
most terrible misfortunes, managed to retain a 
brave heart amidst the turbulence of early Venetian 
life. Gualdrada, wife of the Doge Peter Oandiano 
TV., stands forth distinct from the colourless type of 
her contemporaries. 

In 942 Peter Candiano III. was elected Doge, 


and took as his colleague in the government his son 
named after him. Candiano, jun., being of a proud 
and turbulent character, wished to reign alone. At 
first he plotted in secret against his father ; then he 
appeared with a large party in open rebellion. But 
the greater part of the population, rising in arms, 
made the unhappy youth prisoner and decided to 
kill him. The proposition would, no doubt, have 
been carried out had not the venerable Doge suc- 
ceeded in calming the fury of the populace and 
exiled the rebel, who took refuge in Ravenna with 
the Marquis Guido, son of Berengarius, King of 
Italy, where he was received with open arms, and 
found means to revenge himself against his country 
by arming six ships of war and plundering the 
Venetian galleys. 

A few years later (959) the fickle opinion of the 
clergy and the people recalled the rebel, and elected 
him Doge, after deposing Peter Candiano III., who 
died at the end of two months and fourteen days, 
not without remembering in his will his wife 
Richelda, to whom he left, amongst other bequests, 
a ^^vinea Murada que est posita justa canale de litiis 
Mar cense '^ 

The new Doge, anxious to secure to himself the 
Emperor Otho I.'s protection, and to form advan- 
tageous alliances with the Italian Princes, compelled 
his wife Joan, about the year 966, to take the veil 
at St. Zacharias, and he forced Yitale, their son, to 
become a monk; he then married one of the 


Emperor's subjects, called Gualdrada, sister to the 
Marquis Hugh of Tuscany, descended from Hugh, 
formerly King of Provence and Italy. He received 
as his wife's dowry a great number of slaves and 
vast possessions in Trivigiano, Friuli, and in 
Adriese, besides some castles in Ferrara. The 
new Dogaressa, as a subject of Otho I., was under 
the power of the Salic law, and she brought to 
Yenice the customs of the kingdom of Italy, and at 
her wedding there is mention for the first time of 
the Mundio or Morgincap, unknown in Venetian 
families, where the Roman law prevailed. In fact, 
Peter Candiano IV. gave on his wedding-day, pro 
Morganationis Carta, a quarter of his property to 
his wife. The Doge garrisoned the castles of 
Ferrarese and Opitergino with foreign soldiers. The 
Ducal Palace in the Eialto was also guarded by 
foreigners. At the commencement of his reign, he 
made, with a view to conciliating the people, a few 
wise provisions, but his baneful ambition soon pre- 
vailed over all better feeling, and, desiring to become 
independent of the clergy and of the people, he 
sought to limit the right of discussion in political 
affairs possessed by the Patriarch of Grado and the 
Bishop of the city. His proud aud martial temper 
was fostered by the powerful position to which the 
Candiano family had risen ; they were connected by 
marriage with many illustrious princes, rulers of 
fortified castles, and sure of the help of other 
Candianos who had settled in Padua and Vicenza, 


where they afterwards became Counts. The Vene- 
tians, terrified at the tyranny which threatened them, 
and excited by popular indignation, took up arms in 
the month of August, 976, and rushed to the Ducal 
Palace, where they met with a fierce resistance from 
the foreign soldiery. The ends of justice were 
attained with an impetuosity savouring of revenge, 
and, by the advice of Peter Orseolo (as is affirmed 
by Peter Damiano and Mark Antony Sabellico), the 
Palace was set on fire with wood, dipped in tar, and 
the conflagration spread with great rapidity, and 
not only destroyed the dwelling of the Doges, but 
three hundred houses besides, and the churches of 
St. Mark, St. Theodore, and of Santa Maria 
Zobenigo. The unfortunate Doge and his family, 
pale and haggard, wandered from room to room. 
When made aware of his impending fate by the 
smoke and the heat that surrounded him, as well as 
by the burning roof overhead, he sought flight with 
his wife, infant son, and a few friends through the 
vestibule of the church of St. Mark ; but he was 
met by some of the conspirators, amongst whom 
were some of his relatives. Giving himself up for 
lost, he implored them to spare his life in words- 
which are recorded by John Diacono. " And do 
you too, my brothers, wish to compass my ruin ? I 
beseech you to let me live, and if I erred either in 
words or in deeds concerning public affairs, I swear 
to manage everything henceforth conformably to- 
your wishes I " 


But these words fell on deaf ears, and, not content 
with murdering Candiano, they snatched the inno- 
cent babe, his and Gualdrada's son, out of the nurse's 
arms, and, regardless of his beauty and helplessness, 
ruthlessly killed him. The bodies of the dead were 
left unburied, but a certain John Gradenigo, a pious 
man, who hated violence, took them up and had 
them entombed in the monastery of St. Hilary. 
Vitale, patriarch of Grado, and son of the late 
Candiano, as well as the Dogaressa Gualdrada, 
managed to escape with their lives. With mingled 
feelings of grief and anger, they sought refuge, one 
at the Court of Otho II., who had succeeded his 
father in 973, the other with Adelaide, widow of 
Otho I. and mother of Otho II. 

Revenge against the Venetians filled the mind of 
Gualdrada, and to compass her end was her fixed 
and determined purpose. 

After throwing herself at the feet of the Empress 
Adelaide, she with tears and sighs vividly described 
the deaths of her husband and of her son, and 
ended by beseeching for signal vengeance. The 
author of a curious little book, setting forth, with- 
out any historical foundation, the virtues of some 
Venetian ladies, ascribes a magnanimous answer to 
Gualdrada. Having been asked by the Empress 
how she could hold so dear the memory of so stern 
a prince as Candiano, she replied, "Nature never in- 
tended the wife to be her husband's judge, but his 
helpmeet ! " These words are undoubtedly the 


authors own, but it is certain that Grualdrada's 
firmness of purpose led Otho to inform the Republic 
of the widowed Dogaressa's grief, and to require 
satisfaction for the Doge's death. Peter Orseolo, 
who had succeeded to the Dacal throne, sent at once 
Domenico Grimani to Piacenza as Ambassador to 
Adelaide, with the view of explaining that the entire 
city could not be held responsible for the fierce 
anger of the people, and that it would not answer, 
by way of vengeance, to repeat the demands. 
Grimani, using wise and mild arguments, soothed 
by degrees Gualdrada's anger, who, through the 
mediation of her lawyer Ildenerto, and with the 
approval of Queen Adelaide, came to an arrange- 
ment, made with great solemnity in the Castle 
situated in the suburbs of Piacenza, near the tomb 
of St. Anthony the Martyr. The spacious recep- 
tion-room ended with a circular gallery, where sat 
Adelaide, surrounded by Gilberto, Mayor of the 
Palace, the judges, vassals, and the flower of Ofcho's 
knights. The Doge of Venice was represented by 
Domenico Grimani, Gualdrada by her solicitor 
Ildenerto, son of Ingenzone, a vassal of the 
Countess of Tuscany. A letter was opened which 
had been sealed with Gualdrada's signet ring, in 
which she asked her Imperial Majesty to employ 
Ildenerto as advocate and defender in the suit 
against the Yenetians. Gilberto himself, by com- 
mand of the Empress, granted the post to Ildenerto. 
Then Domenico Grimani stepped forth, and in the 


name of the Doge and of the Venetians showed the 
letter in which Gualdrada claimed her rights. Tho 
widow of Peter Candiano, after declaring herself 
subject to the Salic law, claimed from Peter Orseolo- 
and the Republic everything both great and small 
that she could expect as relict of the murdered 
Doge, not only 400 pounds weight of silver, pro- 
mised with the Morgmcap and other rights, but also 
what her son would have had. They at last came 
to an agreement, in the presence of Godfrey, Chan- 
cellor Envoy of Queen Adelaide, and other worthy 
noblemen, concerning all the property belonging to 
Candiano, viz., lands, houses, plain and chased gold 
and silver, utensils of bronze, iron, pewter and lead, 
beds, slaves, and waiting- women. They agreed by 
common consent to arrange all the affairs, loans, and 
impending lawsuits. Gualdrada declared on her side 
that never at any time, neither against the Doge nor 
his heirs, could a suit be brought about all the 
things movable and fixed mentioned in the Act which 
bore the signature of Gualdrada, hones fa femma, of 
Godfrey, and of a few vassals, of Mark and Domenico 
Grimani, and of other Venetian witnesses. The 
document being read, the Venetian emissary was 
questioned, and he replied — 

*' I showed this note, so that no free man could 
say that we had carried it off by force or cunning 
from Gualdrada, and, moreover, I request that 
Ildenerto, here present as advocate of the same 
lady, should say if this paper is not genuine, and if 


the same Gualdrada did not have it drawn up, and 
did not sign it with her own hand." 

Ildenerto fully confirmed everything. The deed 
drawn up by Valerius, the Imperial notary, in the 
year nine of Otho's reign, and on October 25th, 
975, bears the signatures of Count Gilberto, of 
Gibardo, and Gibizzo, envoys of the Emperor, and 
of the judges of the Sacro Palazzo. After having 
thus become reconciled to the Venetians, Gual- 
drada, it appears, spent the rest of her life at her 
brother's Court, to whom, on November 24th, 997, 
being at Pisa, she sold a castle and some property 
on the Adige, a house and yard dominicata, which 
the Marquis afterwards presented to the Monastery 
of Vangadizza. 

All hatred and enmities appeared to be allayed 
during the reign of Peter Orseolo, who, according 
to Peter Damiano, was ambitious, and became an 
accomplice in the murder of Candiano, with the 
hope of ascending the throne, and, pursued by 
remorse, ultimately sought refuge in a monastery. 
But it is probable that there existed at that time 
two Orseolos bearing the Christian name of Peter ; 
thus historians have believed that the Saint was 
that same Peter, the fierce leader of the people in 
the attack upon the Ducal Palace. It is certain, 
however, that when Orseolo was established upon 
the throne he became religious, and employed the 
advantages afforded him by great wealth to seek to 
do good. He no doubt had a modest and beneficent 


auxiliary in his wife Felicia, who, according to 
tradition, sprang from the Malipiero family. 

Peter married Felicia at eighteen years of age; 
the wedding was celebrated by splendid festivities, 
and after the birth of the first child its parents 
made a vow to God of perpetual chastity in order 
to give themselves up more entirely to religious 
works. So it is related by the conscientious 
biographer, Orseolo, contradicting the anonymous 
Rivipulleuse and other writers, who mention two 
sons of the Doge, John and Peter. There is no doubt 
that, before the birth of the son and the vow of 
chastity, Orseolo had a daughter by Felicia, and she 
married John Morosini. 

The enmity of the various factions was but ill- 
suppressed, and broke out from time to time. The 
partisans of the Candianos nursed their rancour in 
secret, and Doge Peter would probably have died 
by violence had he not turned to religion, which in 
those turbulent times offered comfort and refuge. 
The advice of St. Romualdo, and of the blessed 
Marino, who led the lives of hermits in a place 
dedicated to St. Erasmus, near the ruins of 
Heraclea, between the Silis and the Piave, served 
to confirm him in his determination to retire from 
the world. 

The Abbot Guarino arrived in Venice from the 
Monastery of San Michele di Cossano, in Aquitaine, 
and the Doge, wishing to carry out his plan at 
once, arranged with Guarino to flee from Venice 


■with his nephew and his son-in-law, John Morosini. 
He despatched his wife, with his son Peter, then 
seventeen years old, to Heraclea, to prepare some 
feasts and banquets in memory of some saint; and 
on the 5th of September, 978, the Doge departed 
secretly from Venice and went to the Monastery of 
San Michele di Cossano, in Eoussillon, where he 
became a monk. He lived for five years in the 
hermitage of Longadera, near Cossano, where, in 
981, he received a visit from his son Peter. He 
died in the odour of sanctity in January, 982. 

It appears that the party of the Candianos ac- 
quired fresh favour after Yitale Candiano (978-979) 
and Tribune Memmo (979-991) ascended the ducal 
throne. The latter became powerful on account 
of his riches and his adherents, and also because ha 
married a daughter of Peter Candiano lY., called 
Marina. Probably his marriage tie caused him te 
recognise the rights of his son-in-law, the Patriarch 
Vitale Candiano, who had, until then, pleaded in 
vain for the restitution of his father's property, 
which had been confiscated, taking the case of the 
widow Gualdrada as a precedent. 

The Eepublic was agitated by all kinds of dis- 
orders during the Dogeship of Memmo, a weak- 
minded, short-sighted man. Eomance has inter- 
woven sad love stories with the sanguinary contests 
between the two families of Morosini and Caloprini, 
and the pens of ingenious chroniclers become some- 
what sharp when writing the accounts of homicides 


and carnage. These two families represent the two 
factions which then divided the Republic ; the 
Morosinis, with the Orseolos, supported the Byzan- 
tine alliance, and wished to save the political rights 
of the national representatives ; the Caloprinis and 
the Candianos sought to establish a despotic govern- 
ment under the protection of the Germans. 

The Caloprinis conspired together to destroy 
their rivals, the Morosinis, who, warned in time of 
the peril threatening them, were all able to place 
themselves in safety, except Domenico, who was 
stabbed by Stephen Caloprini, in the Square of San 
Pietro de Castello, as he was leaving the church. 
The wounded man was transported by his servants 
to the monastery of St. Zachary, where he ex- 
pired amidst the tears, lamentations, and cries of 
revenge of his relatives, who had assembled there. 
But the voice of John Morosini arose above the 
clamour, speaking of God and forgiveness. 

Memmo favoured at first the Caloprinis, who at- 
tacked whom they liked with impunity, but after- 
wards, partly from fear and partly from jealousy, 
he sided with the Morosinis, who only thought of 
revenging themselves on their enemies. The Calo- 
prinis then fled secretly and sought out Otho, who 
was then with the General Assembly at Verona. 
By their prayers and promises they induced the 
Emperor, who liked the idea of subduing Venice, to 
go to war with their country. Otho, his mind filled 
with the most audacious designs, forbade hence- 



forward any commercial intercourse between the 
Empire and Venice. This aroused the indignation 
of the people, who destroyed the houses of the 
traitors and threw their women and children into 
gaol. The death of the Emperor in Rome checked 
any further insurrections. The exiled Caloprinis, 
not liking to live as fugitives amongst strangers, 
besought the Empress Adelaide to act as mediatrix 
to obtain their pardon and permission to return to 
their native country. Forgiveness was granted, 
and the exiles came back to the Lagoons, with the 
understanding that they should not be molested in 
their persons or their property. But the hatred of 
the Morosinis was unappeased. One evening, when 
three sons of the Caloprinis were returning home 
in a boat from the Doge's Palace, they were suddenly 
and so fiercely attacked and murdered by the Moro- 
sinis, that the shore was red with their blood. The 
bleeding corpses were carried by a faithful servant 
to their poor mother and their wives. 

"Were it not evident that such discords did not 
weaken the Venetians, and that to the ardour of 
effervescent youth succeeded the calm of vigorous 
manhood, the invectives uttered by Benedetto Dei, 
in the year 1470, might appear to us just : '* I say, 
and I shall always repeat and confirm, that Venice 
had made more changes, introduced more innova- 
tions, and shed more blood than any of the four 
cities reckoned as the most martial in Italy, viz., 
Genoa, Bologna, Perugia, and the Citta di Castello, 


which, taken altogether, would not equal the fourth- 
part of your city of Venice ! " 

During these troublous times, and amidst the 
general desolation and abomination, the pious life of 
the Venetian lady, even if chroniclers are mute 
respecting it, shines out in brilliant contrast to all 
around. There are plenty of melancholy legends, 
and to this time belongs the story of the unhappy 
loves of Helen Candiano and Gerard Gruoro, which 
resembles the melancholy tale of the Veronese 
lovers, and furnished the subject of one of Bandello's 

Helen, the daughter of Peter Oandiano and 
Gerard Guoro, after having been secretly in love for 
a long time, were, by the assistance of the nurse, at 
last married. Whilst Gerard was travelling in the 
East, Peter Candiano presented to his daughter as a 
suitor a nobleman called Victor Belegno. Helen 
fainted from grief and terror, and all remedies used 
failed to revive her ; they supposed her dead, and 
buried her in the church of San Pietro de Castello. 
That same day Gerard Guoro returned to Venice, 
and, apprised of the miserable occurrence, ran to the 
church, raised the coffin lid, and cast himself, weep- 
ing, upon his wife's body. Gerard's tears and 
kisses awoke Helen from her lethargy, and, as a con- 
trast to the Veronese lovers, the Venetian couple 
obtained the forgiveness and blessing of old Can- 
diano. This legend has no foundation in truth, but, 
like the loves of Romeo and Juliet, reveals the 

I lUJL f!?-^^^^^^^^ 


temper of those times, in which ferocity appeared 
side by side with true feelings, and the need of 
living in an ideal world alternated with an intense 
ardour for real work. 

The weak Doge Memmo was compelled in 991 to 
assume the cowl at Saint Zacharyjand his successor, 
Peter Orseolo II., the greatest of the Doges, who had 
hitherto ruled the State, devoted himself to re- 
establish tranquillity — unknown for so many years 
in Venice — to aggrandize himself and his city, and 
to conciliate at the same time the friendship of the 
Emperors of the East and of the West, who in turn 
contended with each other for a certain share in the 
Venetian Government. He obtained in 1004 for 
his son John, whom he had made his colleague, the 
hand of Maria, daughter of Argiropulo, and nephew 
of Basil and Constantine, Emperors of Constanti- 
nople, in marriage. The wedding was celebrated in 
the capital of the Empire with as much pomp as for 
a Greek Prince. The Patriarch blessed in the 
chapel the handsome couple,* whose heads were 
adorned with golden diadems, the gift of the 
royalties, who, when the nuptial ceremony was 
concluded, took Maria and John by the hand and 
presented them to the Court. The festivities and 
banquets lasted three days in the Imperial Palace, 
called Iconomico, at which the Emperors, with the 
dignitaries of State, were always present. The 

♦ The Orseolos were celebrated for their beauty. The young 
Dogaressa Maria, is called by Diac. Giovanni, venusta sposa. 


fetes were repeated in the Lagoons, where Mary 
and John were received in great state by the Doge 
himself, who, with a large flotilla, came out to sea 
to meet the vessel bringing the bridal pair. Some 
time after Maria gave birth to a son, who was called 
Basil, and on that occasion Peter bestowed a large 
sum of money on the people. The Greek lady, who 
ascended the throne of the Doges, was to revive in 
the Lagoons the love of Byzantine customs; she 
brought with her those elegant and refined manners 
which are the ornament of women but which de- 
generate into vice when carried to excess, as 
happened with the celebrated wife of one of the 
Orseolos' Successors. 

Wishing to cement peace between two powerful 
and rival families by marriage, another son of Peter 
Orseolo, called Domenico, conducted to the altar 
Imelda, daughter of TJgo Candiano, whose parents 
were the Doge Peter III. and Richelda. But who 
was this Domenico Orseolo, not mentioned by John 
Diacono, amongst the other sons of Peter II ? 
History relates how, in 1032, Otho Orseolo having 
died in exile, and the Doge Centranico, or Barbolano, 
being deposed, a certain Domenico Orseolo occupied 
the Palace and caused himself to be elected head of 
the State. But the people rebelled against him, and 
the new Doge was compelled to take flight after 
ruling for one day. Imelda Candiano was there- 
fore for a single day Dogaressa at Venice. Filiasi 
believes that the same Domenico, the ephemeral 


Doge, was son of Peter II., since in the Godice 
Trevi'saneo there exists an agreement drawn up a 
few years later, concerning certain property and 
piscatorial rights between the inhabitants of 
Chioggia and Pietro Orseolo, son of Domenico, 
who was son of Peter II., Doge. But to settle the 
question, there are some documents in which 
Imelda di Ugo, quondam Petro Gandiano doge 
relicta Domenico filio hone memorie domao Fetro 
Ursogolo duct, declares to have received a certain 
sum of money from Domenico and Stefano Morosini. 
These documents bear date March, 1025, and January, 
1026 ; Domenico Orseolo's attempt occurred in 1032. 
He therefore was not the son, but the relation of 
Peter Orseolo II., and of Otho Orseolo, and Imelda 
did not wear, even for one day, the Dogaressa's 

Peter Orseolo governed Venice from 991 to 1008, 
a sad period in the history of Italy, troubled by the 
fear of Christian prophecies, which set up again the 
terms of the Etruscan predictions, when every 
mission on earth being completed, the latter would 
return to Chaos. Men were thoroughly dis- 
heartened, and thought only of saving their souls, 
giving munificently to the churches the goods they 
would be forced to relinquish. An observant 
historian remarks how in Venice the idea that the 
end of the world was at hand caused the ancient 
buildings to be left uncared for. Yet this myste- 
rious alarm, which occupied many minds even in the 


Lagoons, did not affect the robust and sturdy power 
of the new population. Yenice remained free from 
the trepidations and cowardice common in the tenth 
century. Here, the idea of God was associated 
with that of the country, and only after having 
mingled in the stir of commerce and the din of 
battle did the minds grow calm in the holy hopes of 
a future life. The maxims taught by religion on 
abnegation, humility, and the vanity of pleasure, 
impressed them powerfully, and Peter Orseolo, 
under the influence of religious faith, formed, with 
his wife, a vow of chastity. But his aspirations 
towards mysticism did not prevent him making war 
on the Narentani, and subjugating Istria and 
Dalmatia, and believing in the future of his country. 
When, at the conclusion of the tenth century, 
humanity shook off the funereal shroud, and raised 
temples as if returning thanks to Grod, and it seemed 
" as if the world put off its old age, to assume a 
white garment of churches ! " in Venice the Doge 
thought of restoring Grado and of finishing the 
Ducal Palace and the Basilisk of St. Mark. A great 
future was indeed in store for this people, alike free 
from predestinations of asceticism and the ener- 
vating influences of feudalism, which never took 
root in Venice, although a few families, like the 
Candianos, held vast possessions and fiefs on the 

Peter Orseolo, a good prince in a turbulent age, 
bold in his undertakings, firm of purpose, and with 


a mind capable of great deeds, died at 48 years of 
age, after having the misfortune to lose, in a fearfal 
pestilence, which desolated the Lagoons, his son 
John, and his daughter-in-law Maria. His other 
son, Otho, succeeded him. He had married a daughter 
of Geiza, King of Hungary, and sister to Stephen I., 
who was afterwards venerated as a saint. The 
Dogaressa, according to the chroniclers, was a 
pious woman, not inferior in virtue to her brother. 
" Mulier,^' says Dandolo, " generositate serena, facie 
facunda et honestate prceclaraJ* 

Illustrious women, as we see, of every nation 
found a second home in the Lagoons. The Orseolo 
family alone had, in the course of a few years, 
formed connections with the Emperors of the East 
by the marriage of John Orseolo and Maria ; with 
Slavonic princes by the union of Icella, daughter of 
Peter Orseolo IL, with Stephen, son of King Surgna, 
and j&nally with the Kings of Hungary. And Peter 
Orseolo, son of the Doge Otho, was in 1038 to wear 
the crown of St. Stephen. 


The Dogaeessa Theodora Silvio — The Dogaeessa 
Felicita Michiele — The Crusades and the 
Venetian People — Religious Feeling — The Con- 
quest OP Constantinople. 

DoMENico SiLYio was elected by the voice of the 
people to succeed Domenico Contarini (1043-1070). 
A man of valour, with a restless and ambitious 
spirit, the new Doge sought the friendship of the 
Emperor Henry, and then turned towards the great 
Pope Hildebrand. From personal interest he 
married Theodora, a Grecian Princess, daughter of 
the Enxperor Constantine Diicas. The marriage was 
arranged by the intervention of Michael, who had 
succeeded his father Constantine in 1067. He 
honoured his brother-in-law, the Doge, with mag- 
nificent titles and dignities. The Empire of the 
East was dragging slowly to its overthrow amidst 
pomp and effeminacy. Luitprand, Bishop of Cre- 
mona, and Ambassador of the Othos, had described 
with malicious piquancy the luxurious pomp which 


concealed the extreme corruption of the Byzantine 
Court. Luitprand represents the people as bare- 
footed beggars, and the great clad in wide tunics 
old and worn, the Emperor, fat and deformed, with 
adornments only suited to a totally different figure, 
the banquets of food sprinkled with rancid oil, 
&c., &c. 

But this melancholy account was not true, and 
must have resulted from the Ambassador's resent- 
ment, for when he visited Constantinople as a youth 
he painted the Eastern Court under a totally 
different aspect. He then beheld the Emperor 
amidst wonderful magoificence. In front of the 
throne stood a tree with gilded branches, and on 
the branches perched hundreds of gilded birds, 
which uttered the notes peculiar to the species they 
counterfeited. The throne was fashioned so skil- 
fully that it was all gold above and below; the seat, 
which was of immense size, was guarded by lions of 
wax or wood, covered with gold. On Christmas 
Day nineteen tables were laid out in the Palace, 
before which the Emperor and his guests reclined, 
and ate off gold plate. The dessert was arranged in 
three epergnes of pure gold, and so massive that the 
servants could not lift them, and they were moved 
by machinery draped with purple cloth. That 
Empire, cradled in pomp and luxury, amidst the 
ambition of women and the base adulation of 
courtiers, amidst lies, flattery, and intrigue, was 


hurrying to its end. The refinements of luxury 
increased day by day, it being erroneously believed 
that ostentatious opulence could vie with real 
power. When Silvio became Doge at Venice the 
public treasury of the Empire was diminishing, and 
the army and navy losing their prestige. Euin 
would have been unavoidable had not a strong, 
active, and determined people arisen to help the 
idle, effeminate, and false Byzantines. The falling 
Colossus of the East implored and obtained support 
from the humble Venetian islands. Did, therefore, 
close ties of subjection, or rather of friendship, still 
exist between Byzantium and Venice ? But even 
before the tenth century the Venetians maintained 
their independence entire and real against all 
foreign nations, nor can it be readily believed that 
the dwellers in the Lagoons, so full of youthful 
vigour, could feel any respect for the Greeks, 
deprived as they were of energy, courage, and 

We may possibly discover some explanation for 
the strange events of this perilous period. 

The Norman adventurers, emboldened by their 
successful conquests, turned their thoughts towards 
Byzantium. In 1082, Robert Guiscard, with his 
son Bohemund, landed on the coasts of Epirus, 
seized Corfu and Anion, then marched upon Dyr- 
rachium, the strongest bulwark of the Empire. 
Emperor Alexius then asked for help from the 


Venetians, thus described by William of Apulia, 
who sang in hexameters the exploits of the Nor- 
mans : — 

" Non ignara quidem belli navalis et audax 
Gens erat hsec : illam populosa Venetia misit 
Imperii prece dives opum, divesque virorum, 
Qua sinus Adriacis interlitus ultimus undis 
Subiacet Arcturo, sunt huius msenia gentis 
Circumsepta Mari, nee ab sedibus alter ad sedes 
Alterius transire potest, nisi lintre vehatur : 
Semper aquis habitant, gens nulla valentin ista 
Aquoreis bellis, ratiumque per aequora ductu." 

These people, exposed to the fury of the sea, 
rendered little by little, with wonderful courage, 
constancy, and industry, their city on the Islands of 
the Lagoons the emporium of the world's com- 

Venice agreed to the solicitation of Alexius, and 
at the end of July or the beginning of August, 1082, 
the fleet, under the command of Silvio, defeated the 
Normans before Dyrrachium. The Emperor, at the 
head of his troops, endeavoured to defend the city 
on land, but his troops were thrown into disorder 
by the onslaught of the Normans, and were com- 
pelled to fly. The Greek and Venetian navies had 
departed at the approach of winter, and Dyrrachium 
had only now for defenders the resident Venetians 
and the Amalfians. A sad tale of treachery was added 
to deeds of bravery. The defence of the Castle was 
entrusted to a Venetian of illustrious descent, called 
Domenico, son, it was said, of a former Doge, and a 
bitter enemy of Silvio, by whom he was excluded 


from the Grand Council. Domenico, impelled by 
his hatred of Silvio, probably, also, by his love for 
one of Eobert's nieces, arranged to betray the city 
to the Normans ; and Duke Robert and the traitor 
met near the church of St. Nicholas, not far from 
Dyrrachium, to arrange their infamous treaty. 
The city was to be consigned to the enemy, and as 
price of the betrayal Domenico was to marry the 
beautiful daughter of Count William, Eobert's 
brother. But the iniquitous plan was discovered; 
the Venetians, summoned by the sound of trumpets, 
flew to defend the city, but they were defeated, and 
some took refuge on the ships, whilst others were 
made prisoners ; amongst the latter the son of 
Doge Silvio. Anna Comnenus, who wrote the life 
of the Emperor Alexius, her father, declares that the 
gates of Dyrrachium were opened by the besieged on 
the advice of an Amalfian. The authoress does not 
even hint at the betrayal by a Venetian, as observes 
Gfrorer, for fear of wounding that maritime 
nation, who later, under the command of Yitale 
Faliero, saved the Byzantine Empire. When, in 
]085, Faliero replied proudly, in the name of the 
inhabitants of the Lagoons, to the Normaas, re- 
fusing to break faith with the Greek Emperor, we 
must not therefore conclude that they fought merely 
to support the Eastern Empire, but rather with the 
object of securing to themselves privileges and 
immunities. Not only were the chains of subjection 
between Venice and Byzantium broken, but those 


of friendsliip were growing slack. When fortune 
no longer favoured the Venetians led by Domenico 
Silvio, who was defeated 1084, near Corfu, the 
people deposed him and compelled him to retire to 
a monastery, renewing their former accusations 
against him — " and especially his ambition in 
marrying a Grrecian princess." But how could this 
be so grave a fault, when Greek princesses had 
come to the Lagoons, and died there, lamented by 
the people? Would the Venetians have blamed 
Silvio for seeking a wife at the Grrecian Court, had 
they not, instead of looking upon Constantinople as 
a centre of the fine-arts and of refined culture, con- 
sidered it a city of corruption ? The Chroniclers 
settled this question by giving a dreadful description 
of Silvio's wife, upon whose head were no doubt 
concentrated all the faults and vices of her native 
country. The daughter of the Emperor Constantino 
brought to the Lagoons a luxury unknown there 
before, so says history. And yet the Venetians were 
acquainted with Grecian customs ; neither were the 
magnificent Byzantine garments, nor the splendours 
of the Court, unknown to a people who had adopted 
some of the Eastern fashions. They also were well 
aware that life dragged on lasciviously and lazily 
round the Emperor, who, decked out like an idol, 
where gems sparkled, silver cuirasses and steel arms 
shone resplendent, was swayed by wicked senators 
and lewd bufi^oons. But the regal pomp which the 
Dogaressa, when she was settled in the Lagoons, 


displayed, angered everybody. The luxurious 
effeminacy of lier ways of life is described with 
many curious particulars. The air of her rooms 
was redolent with perfumes, and each day Theodora 
washed not only her hands and face, but also her 
whole body in scented waters, and she sometimes 
bathed in the dew collected by her slaves. Besides, 
strange to relate, the Dogaressa never touched her 
food with her fingers, but had it cut up by the 
eunuchs, and put it to her mouth with a kind of 
golden fork. This last excess of luxury, which 
causes Peter Damiano to inveigh furiously against 
her, proves to us to what an extent the Venetians 
followed the customs of the Eomans, who at their 
meals caused the meat to be cut up in the kitchen 
by a slave called sector or structor. The sector there 
arranged the viands on dishes patince, and the guests 
carried the food to their mouths with their right 
hands. The fork, unknown to the Latins and used 
by the Dogaressa in the 12th century, was not 
adopted in France till 1379, when it is mentioned 
for the first time in a list of plate belonging to the 
King's household. Therefore, if the luxury of the 
Dogaressa was the cause of astonishment and 
scandal, we must say that the Grecian ladies who 
previously married Venetians either forgot the 
refinements of their native land, or there was a 
salutary reaction in Silvio's time against the volup- 
tuous customs of Byzantium which would in- 
evitably have produced an enervating effect upon a 


people wlio owed much of their greatness to the 
simplicity of their lives. And probably national 
feeling had much to do with such a reaction. 
Women's time was therefore not devoted to idle 
thoughts about dress or pomp, and the words of a 
Ferrarese chronicler of the 12th century can be 
quoted as applicable to this time and country when 
he says that the husband and wife ate their frugal 
meal off one plate by the light of a single torch. 

The last illness of Silvio's wife was also 
attributed to Divine punishment. This elegant 
woman, who sprinkled herself with perfumes, waa 
attacked by a loathsome malady, and her body, 
eaten away by decay, fell off by degrees. All 
remedies proved useless to arrest the horrible 
disease, and the stench was so great that came from 
the putrefying wounds that no woman would con- 
sent to nurse her. Silvio's wife expired in horrible 

Vitale Faliero, who succeeded the Doge (1084- 
1096), renewed the success of the Yenetiana 
against the Normans, and obtained from the Greek 
Emperor Alexius honours, privileges, and im- 
munities. No longer a 'protege^ but a deliverer, the 
young Republic burst every fetter of political sub- 
mission to Byzantium, and freely unfolded its rich 
exuberance of power. Venice, to whom Byzantium 
was bound by bonds of gratitude, oftentimes 
burdensome, earnestly desired to secure Henry lY., 
who had arrived in Italy for the war of Investiture, 


as a friend, and the Doge himself formed with the 
Emperor of Germany ties of spiritual relationship. 
Having been received in Venice with great honours, 
Henry wished to stand godfather to a daughter of 
Faliero's, who was named Henrietta. 

In 1096 Vitale Michiele succeeded Faliero, as 
Doge. According to the inscription engraved on 
the tomb to the left of the middle door of the 
Basilica of St. Mark, Felicia Michiele was averse to 
luxury and show. This tomb of the Dogaressa's, a 
rude work in the Byzantine-Italian style, is em- 
bellished with stones covered with a strange net- 
work of architectural embellishments, and sur- 
mounted by capitals, incorrectly joined to the 
columns, probably brought from the forsaken 
churches in Aquileia, Heraclea, and Grado, and 
placed there as ornaments. The Latin inscription 
describes favourably Felicia Michiele's character. 
During the nine years that she survived her hus- 
band she devoted herself to piety and good works, 
and considered the distribution of alms one of her 
principal duties. Disregarding the greatness of her 
position, she avoided all noisy revels, all pomp, and 
found her chief pleasure in acts of worship and in 
caring for her family. Gracious in her manner, 
modest without prudishness, the kindness of her 
heart shone forth in her sweet countenance. She 
also developed in her children pious and devout 
feelings. One of her daughters, called Anna, filled 
with a religious fervour, before which all worldly 


sentiments disappear, became a nun. But wlien the 
Justinian family was annihilated in the Greek war 
against Emmanuel Comnenus (1170), and of that 
illustrious lineage one scion only remained, called 
Nicholas, a Benedictine monk of St. Nicholas del Lido, 
Anna Michiele obtained a dispensation from Pope 
Alexander III. which enabled her to marry the 
Monk Justinian, and she afterwards became the 
affectionate mother of twelve children : Mark, 
Orsato, Matthew, Francis, Marinus, Stephen, 
Philip, Martha, Yitale, Margaret, Bortoletta, and 
James. When these children were grown up and 
educated, Nicholas returned to his cell, after having 
founded a nunnery in the Island of Amiana, where 
his wife Anna retired and took the vow^s in con- 
junction with her three daughters, Martha, Mar- 
garet, and Bortoletta. 

The Dogaressa Felicia Michiele, having ascended 
the throne more than a century after the vain and 
frivolous wife of Silvio, found herself, gentle and 
quiet as she was, amidst events which produced in 
Europe new ideas, customs, and inclinations. 

In 1095, a poor monk of Picardy, and Pope 
Urban, renewed after a century the cry of the 
Pontiff Gerberto, who had been the first to lament 
over the terrible difference between the East and 
the West. Christian Europe was aroused, and 
gazed with ardent love at Jerusalem, the Holy 
Land ; to die beside the tomb of Christ became the 
alluring aspiration of a life-time. Passions of all 


kinds were tumultnoiislj aroused on every side ; 
not only religious fervour, but the desire of liberty, 
of glory, of gain, and of adventure, obliterated for 
a time love of country, domestic ties, and all the 
feelings that unite the human race in one great 
bond of social fellowship. And yet, amidst the 
miseries of the middle ages, tliat sjplendid monument 
of human folly, as Robertson terms the Crusades, 
stands out nobly, that fanaticism which seized alike 
upon rich and poor, masters and servants, and drove 
men to suffer, weep, and fight, for one ideal. 

In Venice also, the minds, especially of the 
women, were excited by these new ideas, and in the 
tenth century an asylum was opened in the Island 
of Giudecca for pilgrims to the Holy Land, and in 
the following century another was opened in the 
Island of St. Helena, and during the first Crusade 
two more, one in the Island of St. Clement, the 
other at Castello. In the general religious move- 
ment, which exercised a beneficial influence even 
amongst this cautious mercantile people, appeared 
the gentle faces of their women. But whilst many 
countries were agitated by such wild enthusiasm, 
in the Lagoons, on the contrary, female life was 
surrounded by an aureola of domestic peace, and 
the good sense of the Venetians was apparent in 
their love of God, which never degenerated into 
ascetic mania. All minds still turned towards the 
peace to be found within convent walls, and it was 
no uncommon occurrence for whole families to 


abandon the world and take to a monastic life, as, 
for instance, in 1184, Manfred de Gonzo and his 
wife Maria, with their son Albert, swore to obey the 
decrees of the priest Giovanni, agent of the Abbess 
of Saint Zachary, and after having bestowed their 
goods on the monastery, all three became converts. 
There were also instances of women founding re- 
ligious houses, such as Agnes and Bertha, who 
obtained from Bishop Leonard Donato, of Torcello, 
the Church of St. Lawrence, to found there a con- 
vent of nuns, according to the rules of the Bene- 
dictines. For a long time gifts were continued to 
the monasteries, where people found an asylum from 
every peril, and solace for every sorrow. If the 
history of the religious communities which in- 
habited the Venetian convents should ever be com- 
piled, it would give us an account of the spiritual 
life in that State, and enable us better to under- 
stand with how much faith they deposited at the 
foot of the altars the wealth accumulated with such 
difficulty. We see amongst the donations, to which 
women almost always contributed, a curious sample 
drawn from the archives of St. Zachary, the most 
important nunnery in Yenice. In March, 1054, 
Inga and Azilo, brother and sister, and Lselius 
their nephew, gave to the monastery of St. 
Zachary their possessions of Monselice. Offerimus, 
said the deed, in su^ra scrijpto Monaster io Sancti 
Zacarie et Sancti Pancratii in punctum et usum 
Monackane (sic) que modo est vel que jpro tempore 


ordinate fuerint, omnibus rebus illis iuris nostri quam 
habere visu sumus in comitatu Fatavensis et in in- 
dicdria Montesilicano, 

The married couple Giovanni and Yivalda, and 
their sons Wilham and John, on Auo^ust 12th, 
1078, bestowed other possessions of Monselice on 
the convent. And they never in their wills forgot 
to make some offering to the convent, as when, for 
instance, Menilda or Imenelda, wife of Ottone 
Falier da San Pantaleone, left eight pounds sterling, 
or like Frondisia, daughter of Maria Stanierio, and 
widow of Giovanni de Dono Dei d'Aneona, who 
declared she possessed fifty Veronese pounds, a 
bracelet worth twenty pounds and a handsome 
crucifix with two bracelets. Mary desired this 
property to be given to the monastery of St. 
Zachary, and to the Abbess Oasotta, her relation, 
ordering a tenth to be paid to St. Peter's bishopric 
of Castellano in order to have 1,000 masses said for 
her own soul, and 1,000 masses for the soul of her 
mother, that the bracelet should be made into a 
cross to adorn the church, and the rest distributed 
to the poor. But the patrimony of St. Zachary had 
been enriched by legacies of far more importance, 
like those of St. Boniface, and of Leonard Michele, 
Count of Ossero. 

Milone, Marquis of Sambonifacio, of Manfredo, 
living under the Salic law, left by his will of July 
10th, 954, to the monastery, the Castle of Eonco 
and its dependencies, lands, vines, houses, woods. 


&c. In case of the extinction of his family, Milo 
made the monastery heir to all his property, and 
requested that 100 bushels of corn and 100 
measures of wine should be paid annually to the 
monastery, besides a pound of Veronese money. 
The possession of the Castle was confirmed to the 
monks of St. Zachary by patent of the Emperor 
Henry III. (April 16th, 1037). 

Leonard Michele, son of Doge Yitale II., in his 
testament, drawn up in August, 1184, by Domenico 
Arduino, priest of St. John the Evangelist, con- 
stituted trustee, Casotta, Abbess of St. Zachary, 
and her successors. He left to the Abbess his 
goods and chattels to the value of 850 pounds, con- 
sisting of four bowls, two silver platters, a buckle, 
and a gold bracelet, beds, utensils, &c. 

He left besides to the monastery, where he wished 
to be interred, all the vineyards, salt mines, lands, 
water, and his freehold estates, hoping thus to 
benefit the souls of his father, mother, of other 
relations, and of himself. " If anybody," so con- 
cluded the will, ''dare to alter this arrangement, he 
will have for enemies God the Father Almighty, His 
Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost, and incur, 
besides, the excommunication of the 318 Fathers, 
and be compelled to pay five golden pounds." And 
in the same month of that same year 1184, Adelina, 
widow of Leonard Michele, satisfied with the 
thousand pounds left her by her husband, gave a 
receipt to Casotta, the Abbess, and to all the 


nuns, of all that was promised again, and of all the 
gifts and whatever other thing she might claim. 
A bull of September 5th confirmed Leonard 
Michele's will. 

Indeed, the faith of this mercantile people was 
very sincere, and even despite the bustle of business 
their minds were inclined to religious thoughts, 
hoping for mercy at the Judgment Day on account 
of the gifts made to the Church. Years went by, 
and yet their religious ardour remained the same, 
and instances of offering themselves and their wealth 
to the monasteries were constantly renewed. Done 
in concert by husband and wife, the desire remained 
strong within them of ending their lives in mon- 
asteries, thus devoting themselves to the service 
of God. 

All this will explain why the Venetians could not 
treat witli indifference the summons to join the 
Crusades. But Grovernments likely to endure are 
not given to mystic asceticism ; they know how to 
maintain a happy medium between the two ex- 
tremes, and to have faith without mysticism, great- 
ness without ideality. The Venetian people might 
be enthusiastic, but not their rulers. Thus in the 
Lagoons commerce and religion were curiously 
combined ; they had neither the splendour of the 
initiated and the apostles, nor the unthinking and 
generous prowess of the Crusaders. This Republic, 
which kept its priesthood in subjection, knew how, 
on many occasions, to assume a sort of official 


asceticism, which was the result of calm delibera- 
tion on the part of the highest authority in the 
State. Prudent and circumspect governors always 
managed to moderate the impulses of the heart by 
the judgment; they knew how to allow religion to 
expand freely, and, at the same time, restrain 

The Venetians contributed ships and arms in aid 
of the first Crusade. The Crusaders, after undergoing 
great hardships, conquered Nicaea and Antioch, 
and made themselves masters of Jerusalem. Then 
Venice sent out a fleet ; two sons of Doges, one a 
priest and the other a warrior, commanded the 
expedition, and typified the union of religion and 
politics. To John, son of the Doge Yitale Michele, 
was given the banner bearing the arms of the 
Republic; to the Bishop of Castello, Henry Con- 
tarini, son of the Doge Domenico, was consigned 
the banner representing the Cross of Christ. John 
Michele and Henry Contarini sailed with the fleet, 
and after having, in 11 00, assisted in the storming 
of Caiffa, returned home, bringing the body of St. 
Nicholas, which was deposited in the Church del 

The renewed expeditions to Palestine kept Venice 
in a state of ferment; the Doge Ordefalo Faliero 
(1102-1116) united in his mind God and his country, 
and whilst he fought for the Holy Sepulchre, sought 
at the same time to open in Palestine new ports to 
Venetian commerce. In 1104 a fleet of a hundred 


•ships set sail for Asia, and tlie Yenetians, after 
having contributed to the victory at Jaffa, and 
•conquered Sidon, obtained privileges and settle- 
ments in Sidon and Ptolernais. 

The following year the people of Yenice welcomed 
-with joy the arrival of the body of St. Stephen, a 
piece of wood from the true Cross, and some relics 
of St. Plautus and St. James the Less, carried away 
from Constantinople. The Doge himself, with the 
>principal citizens, sallied forth to meet the ship 
bearing these relics, and with great reverence 
carried on his own shoulders to his boat the bones 
of St. Stephen. The Dogaressa Matilda accom- 
panied him, a lady of royal lineage and, according 
to Dandolo, of spotless reputation, mirce prohi'tatis, 
and renowned as a model of conjugal fidelity. 

The successor to Faliero, Domenico Michiele 
{1116-1130), secured fresh privileges and commercial 
settlements for the Republic by conquering Tyre, 
where Domenico Morosini, who was afterwards 
Doge, won his first laurels. 

For several years that passionate ardour for the 
'deliverance of the Holy Sepulchre diminished, until 
Innocent II. endeavoured to revive the Crusades. 
The voice of the Pope aroused France, the land of 
brave and noble deeds. Bands of warriors, eager 
to reconquer Jerusalem, fallen once more into the 
hands of the Saracens, arrived from the shores of 
the Rhine, the plains of Poitou, from the castles and 
villages of fertile Champagne ; they were eager to 


raise anew the standard of the Cross in the birth- 
place of our Lord, in the home of the Apostles, in 
the cradle of our faith and salvation, as Jacques de- 
Vitry, Bishop of Ptolemais, so aptly declared. 

The Crusaders this time sorrowed at leaving their 
families, and dared not, at parting, turn their eyes 
towards their native land lest their hearts should 
fail them. Thus wrote le Sire de Joinville : " Je ne 
voz onques retourner mes yex ver Joinville, pourceque 
le cuer neme attendrisist dou biau chastel que je lessoie 
et de mes dous enfants.^^ 

The French Crusaders applied to Venice for a 
fleet to transport them to Palestine, and obtained one 
on condition of their paying eighty-five thousand 
silver marks. Henry Dandolo was then Doge (1201)^ 
an octogenarian whose years and weak sight seemed 
but to increase his energy and daring. The French 
envoys met the Venetian people in the Basilica (the 
finest in the world), and, after hearing mass, swore 
on their sword-hilts and on the Gospels, amidst 
passionate tears and cries, reciprocally to maintain 
the promises of the treaty. But when the ships 
were ready, the French barons not being able to 
produce the sum agreed upon, Henry Dandolo pro- 
posed that instead of their paying the whole debt,, 
he, at the head of the Venetians, should accom- 
pany them, and that together they should reconquer 
Zara, which had rebelled. The proposition was 
accepted, and shortly after that city was recon- 
quered. During the siege Isaac, Emperor of Con- 


stantinople, driven awaj bj a usurper, appeared 
amongst the Crusaders, and implored them to help 
him in recovering his crown. They acceded to his 
request, and succeeded in the enterprise, which 
proved but of short duration ; for, in consequence 
of fresh rebellions and intrigues in the palace, the 
Crusaders came to a rupture with the Greeks, and 
Constantinople was taken a second time. When the 
standard of St. Mark floated on the walls of Con- 
stantinople the Greeks fled in alarm, amidst the din 
of arms, and screams joined to a dreadful chorus of 
moans and lamentations. 

*' Since the Creation there has never been a greater 
devastation." Thus wrote Yillehardouin. Immense 
riches and most precious objects of art were saved 
in the general pillage and carried off by the Venetians 
to their own country. 

The power of Venice made itself felt at length in 
the East. 


OoNSTANCE, Daughter of King Tanceed, and Wife op 
THE Doge Peter Ziani — Chivalry and Women — 
The Venetian Women in the East. 

The Crusades, as well as fresh conquests, greatly 
modified social life in Venice, and the foreign ladies 
who from time to time settled in the Lagoons 
brought from their homes strange manners and 
customs which were gradually adopted by the Vene- 
tians. A proud woman of the hardy Norman race 
arrived in Venice, after the Grecian princesses, to 
espouse the head of the State. 

The ancient feuds with the Normans, lulled for a 
time by the wars in Palestine, broke out in 1130 
more violently than before, when those audacious 
conquerors resumed arms against the Greek: Emperor 
and threatened Dalmatia, the property of the Vene- 
tians. A treaty of peace was concluded in 1175 
between the Doge Sebastian Ziani and William II., 
King of Sicily, and in 1213, still further to ratify 


this friendship, Constance, daughter of Tancred, 
King of Sicily, became the wife of the Doge Peter 
Ziani, the widower of beautiful Maria, daughter of 
Peter Baseggio, procurator of St. Mark. A son of 
Maria Baseggio, called George, was, according to 
some chroniclers, torn to pieces by dogs belonging 
to the Convent of St. George-the-Greater, for which 
the Doge, filled with grief and anger, burned the 
monastery down while the monks were in it ; but, 
repenting afterwards, he rebuilt the monastery and 
richly endowed it. All this is probably only a fable, 
since neither Altinate nor Dandolo make any mention 
of it. By his second marriage the Doge Ziani had 
one son, Mark, and two daughters, Marchesina and 

According to tradition, the Dogaressa Constance 
was beautiful and noble-minded, and Palazzi makes 
her eulogium as follows : — " A Queen by birth, and 
Dogaressa of Venice by marriage, she proved that 
she valued more her Dogeship at Yenice with the 
title of princess than the Dukedom of Calabria, with 
the title of queen. She was brave, beautiful, and an 
exception to her sex in general by her freedom from 
jealousy ! " 

In truth this last quality was not very wonderful 
in her, considering her consort's great age, who, 
according to some writers, relinquished, after Con- 
stance's death, the Dogeship, and followed his 
beloved wife, at the end of forty days, to the tomb. 
The Gronaca Altinate says, on the contrary, that 


Ziani, after having ruled for twenty-fhree and a 
half years, retired to his paternal mansion on the 
coast of Santa Giustina with his wife and his 
children, whom he decreed should remain after 
his death, with all his patrimony, under the juris- 
diction of their mother. He died a fortnight later, 
and was buried in the monastery of St. George-the- 
Greater, in the tomb of his father Sebastian. But 
in reality Ziani abdicated in 1229, assumed the 
frock of the Benedictines, retired to the Island of 
St. George-the-Greater, and died in the month of 
March of the same year. His wife undoubtedly 
survived him, for in October, 1231, Thomas Con- 
tarini, of Sta. Maria Formosa, and Stephen Barbaro, 
of St. Stephen, after having read Peter Ziani's will, 
declared Constance and Paul, Abbot of St. George- 
the-Greater, trustees of the late Doge's property. 
But Venetian customs were modified even more by 
expeditions to the Holy Land than by foreign 
marriages. On one side religious enthusiasm, on 
the other warlike enterprises, conduced to the 
formation of a novel state of society. The Crusades 
developed in Europe a new spirit, which penetrated 
the lives of all, modified the fashions in dress, and 
brought about a total change in the nations of the 
West. Laws of courtesy restrained feudal violence, 
a wandering life, with its vicissitudes, enlarged the 
mind^ religion lost much of its terrors, when the 
Virgin's benign face, compassionating men's suffer- 
ings, appeared beside the severe figure of the 


Almighty. The mystical Church at Lyons conse- 
crated the rehabilitation of woman by celebrating in 
1134 the feast of the Immaculate Conception. By 
degrees rehgious piety inclined towards an enthu- 
siastic and chivalrous courtesy. Knighthood, sub- 
jected to solemn and prescribed forms, became the 
cradle of a refined poetry, which, at least as a 
fashion, rendered special homage to woman, and 
maintained courteous manners. Venice also assumed 
new customs. But the position of the Republic was 
different to that of the rest of Europe. ]N"o feudal 
towers had ever reared their heads amidst the blue 
waters of the Lagoons, nor had the groans of the 
oppressed resounded on their shores. Knights and 
Lords of the Manor did not dwell there, but a people 
full of energy, and skilled traders, who resisted 
and conquered the vicissitudes of fortune and the 
tempests of the sea, and during their days of rest 
sought solace and comfort in domestic life. The 
varied and fantastic Oriental nature, the customs of 
the infidels, the enervating Byzantine life, influenced 
suddenly the customs of European nations. Venice 
had, however, long held intercourse with, the East, 
and had acquired in her relations with Byzantium 
courteous Eastern manners without losing any of 
her pristine energy ; thus what became for other 
nations a sudden and violent change in manners 
and habits, was for Venice the gradual development 
of refinement, without gaps, convulsions, or turmoil. 
They only needed to acquire the graceful manners 


of the French, and when in those wars the Venetians 
fought in concert with the flower of French chivalry, 
the blunt manners of the Adriatic became polished 
and refined. For had they not been brought into 
contact with the gentle manners of chivalry, and 
been told how the bravest knights bowed before 
women in all that related to matters of the heart 
and to the most delicate questions of gallantry ? 
Foreign ladies were not only made umpires in 
poetical contests, but also in more serious affairs ; 
thus Bertrade de Monfort governed her first 
husband, Fulke d'Anjou, as well as her second^ 
Philip I., King of France. By degrees the Vene- 
tians inclined towards graceful customs, and 
tournaments and military exhibitions were intro- 
duced not only in Venice, but also in the neigh- 
bouring countries, and particularly in the land 
watered by the Adige and the Po. 

" I have traversed part of Italy, I have seen the 
countries of the French and the Germans, but I 
never found any country to compare with the Marca 
trivigiana for riches, power, and all that is best 
worth having ! " 

Thus wrote Matteo Buono, a Venetian, in 1227. 
Amidst the warehouses and the market-places troops 
of soldiers marched about, fought in tournaments 
and jousted — an attractive union of gallantry and 
business. The most remarkable of the fetes of the 
Marca amorosa was the Castle of Love, erected at 
Treviso in 1214, a strange spectacle, where the 


Yenetians assembled in great numbers. In the 
middle of Spineda, now a suburb of St. Thomas, a 
large castle was constructed of wood, covered with 
gold, velvet, and costly tapestries, on which Trevisan 
children of noble birth, gorgeously dressed and 
adorned with jewels, were placed. They had, with 
flowers, fruit, and perfumes, to defend the castle 
from an assault attempted by youths armed in the 
same manner. The assailants arrived from all parts 
of Venice, with the banners of their companies ; the 
army of Yenetians was especially remarkable beyond 
all others for beauty, the richness of the armour, 
and of the standards. The assault began. The 
women in play attacked and defended themselves 
by throwing apples, oranges, peaches, roses, and 
scented waters ; but the Yenetians made the first 
onset, amidst a storm of flowers and fruit, and were 
on the point of taking the castle when, amidst the 
agitation and tumult of the crowd, the Paduans, 
jealous of the success of the Yenetians, wrenched 
away the gonfalon of St. Mark, and tore it to 
shreds. At such an insult the Yenetians drew 
their swords and attacked the Paduans; the judges 
of the tournament hurried to separate the comba- 
tants, but the fray was only suppressed for a time, 
and ended later by a war, in which the Paduans 
were defeated at the tower of Bebbe near Chioggia. 
The Doge Peter Ziani decreed by the treaty of 
peace that twenty-five of the Paduan youths who had 
taken part in the fete at Treviso should go to 


Venice and put themselves at his mercy. They 
obeyed, the Doge received them very graciously, 
and sent them home laden with handsome presents. 
Thus chivalry made men ready to forgive injuries. 

Beauty and valour were honoured in the Lagoons 
by splendid entertainments, in some of which, on 
Shrove Tuesday, the merry temper of the people 
made them almost turn into ridicule the tourna- 
ments and the knights. And in truth the Eepublic, 
in commemoration of its victory over the Patriarch 
of Aquileia, obliged its adversaries to send every 
year, on Thursday in the carnival week, a bull and 
twelve pigs, which were killed on the piazza of St. 
Mark by blacksmiths, armed with lances, scimitars, 
and very long swords. The Doge then entered a 
hall of his palace, and there knocked down some 
miniature wooden castles, representing the fort- 
resses of the lords of Priuli. 

Many of the novelties the Venetians saw were 
not altogether good, nor, if adopted by them, would 
they have proved beneficial to the inhabitants of the 
Lagoons, but yet many of their old customs were 
set aside, and others altered to suit a more open- 
handed way of living. If knighthood in religious 
countries assumed a monastic bias, and amongst 
merry and thoughtless nations inclined to volup- 
tuousness and licentiousness, it was held in check 
at Venice by the determined character of the people, 
who thus escaped the injurious effects of an institu- 
tion which, originating in the worship of strength 


and beauty, ended by lowering the sanctity of 
marriage and of female chastity. For, notwith- 
standing the flattery lavished upon the fair sex in 
romances and courts of love, the female mind was 
never so devoid of noble ideals as in the middle ages. 
Love was then either a mystic passion or a base 
lust ; the chivalric ideal ended by hypocritically re- 
pressing sensuality on the one side and by making 
it spring forth, like purulent matter, on the other. 
The women themselves adopted the most dangerous 
theories concerning love. For instance, Hermen- 
garda, the beautiful Countess of Narbonne (UPS- 
HOT), declared that a divorced husband could, when 
remarried to another, become his former wife's 
lover, and the Countess of Champagne asserted that 
love between married people cannot expand freely, 
that only lovers will sacrifice everything for its 
sake, whilst married people are held together by 
principle, and cannot be jealous of one another, and 
without jealousy there is no real love. Even in the 
Marca Amorosa men who ingratiated themselves 
with noble ladies were able to enjoy glory and 
honour; thus Sordello was the lover of Cunizza da 
Eomano, daughter of Eccelino, the monk, and when 
she became the wife of Richard di Sambonifacio, he 
fled with her to the Court of the Eccelinos. Spero- 
nella Dalesmanino, a native of Padua, had six hus- 
bands living at once ; Maria Camposapiero, was the 
concubine of Eccelino; Sandina Capodivacca, having 
become the mistress of her step-son, was killed by 


her husband ; and Benvenuta de Eossi dei Zacchi 
received the name of Meretrix Magna, But Venice, 
though surrounded by such depraved customs, re- 
mained unharmed, and even around the throne 
of the Dogaressas, primitive manners were un- 
changed, as well as the ties of apparent familiarity 
between the nobles and the people. Thus, at the 
grand festival of the Ascension, the inhabitants of 
the Island of Poveglia presented the Dogaressa with 
a small purse, filled with copper pennies, to buy her- 
self, so they said, a pair of slippers. The chroniclers 
excuse themselves for only mentioning a few names 
of women, by saying that, if their lives were obscure, 
they were not, as elsewhere, depraved. Here the 
feminine element in its various phases had no in- 
fluence over men, and the laws themselves kept the 
wives away from their husbands when they had 
to leave Venice to enter into treaties for the Re- 
public or to manage some difficult piece of business. 
A man, to remain perfectly self-possessed, and to 
attain glorious ends, must concentrate his whole 
mind upon the subject in hand, and not be distracted 
by vain sentimentality. Whilst in other parts of 
Italy writers lost themselves in metaphysical sub- 
tleties and in the casuistries of love, in Venice 
healthy common-sense prevailed ; and a Venetian 
friar, who lived at the close of the 13th and at the 
beginning of the following century, spoke with rare 
good sense about the education of woman and of 
the family. Friar Paul the younger said, in his 
native dialect, that a man should seek a woman of 


suitable age, that she should be tall and well made, 
because of such usually are bora large and hand- 
some children. He added, that men should not be 
governed by woman's advice, for her judgment is 
not sound, because she has neither a sound nor 
firm constitution, but bad and weak, and the 
mind is greatly affected by the health of the body. 
How different from the female ideal of Trou- 
badour poetry ! And even when the Provencals 
repaired to the Peninsula, the flower of Western 
art was also transplanted to the shores of the 
Lagoons, long before the Tuscan dialect was put 
into poetry. But the people, not given to musing, 
understood but little of the subtleties of the gay 
science, of amorous codes and of delicate love, and 
to the refined Proven9al lyrics they preferred the 
romantic tales of the Troubadours, who gave, in 
Italian, accounts of King Arthur and Charlemagne. 
The Ganzoni di gesta (heroic ballads), and Bomanzi 
di avventura (tales of adventure) were heard in 
Yenice, and the language la plus delitable a lire et a 
oir que nule autre, as wrote Martino da Canale, was 
mixed with the vulgar dialect, and little Franco- 
Yenetian poems resounded in the camps and streets, 
just as were later the madrigals set to music and so 
much in vogue in ISTorthern Italy and especially in 
the beautiful land bathed by the Adige. But the 
bantering humour of the Yenetians revealed itself 
now and then, for amongst the poems of Iseult and 
Tristan, Launcelot and Guinevere, and the gallant 
songs of Nicholas of Padua, setting forth ideals of 


prowess and loyalty whicli produced a beneficial 
and civilizing influence, were inserted certain know- 
ing fables of animals, bearing a satirical meaning, 
such for instance as the little Franco-Venetian poem 
" Bainardo and Lesegrinoy 

The language of chivalrous courtesy was also used 
to describe the great exploits of the Venetians, and 
Martino da Canale, who lived in the second half of 
the 13th century, probably related his beautiful 
romances himself in French to the people, for often, 
almost addressing his auditors, he writes in his 
Chronicles : *' Que vous diroie ce?^' Or '' Veul que 
vos saches, saches seignors,'^ &c. 

Venice had a poet in the middle of the twelfth 
century, Bartolomeo Zorzi, who sang in the Provencal 
tongue, and who occasionally did not stifle the 
spontaneity of inspiration by art. Fu savis horn, de 
sen natural, and knew how to hen trohar e cantar. 
The fno amove, the theories of chivalry, form the 
subject of Zorzi's poems. "As fire destroys all 
things, so love destroys the heart; " and always the 
same subject. 

Aissi col fuocx consuma totas res, 

Consuma amors le cor os deigna assire 

Tot peussamen queil pogues contradire 

Tro que del tot al cor vencut e pres ; 

Per que mos cors contradir noi pot ges, 

Qu'el es en lui assis ab tal esfortz 

Que, sitot eu m'era ab lui acordatz, 

Pel dan quern fetz autan la dura mortz, 

De laissar chan et amoros solatz 

Ops m'es qu'er chant e sia enamoratz. 

This poet was more of a subtle reasoner than 


given to powerful description, and it seems as if his 
fellow-citizens did not admire his poetical sophisms, 
for he complains of the severe criticisms which beset 
liim. " Cursed art of verse-making ! " exclaimed 
Zorzi, angrily. Sometimes a tone full of life, ardour, 
and energy appeared in his writings, inspired by 
patriotism. Bonifazio Calvo, a Genoese troubadour, 
addressed to Bartolomeo, made prisoner by the 
G-enoese, a Sirventese, blaming the Venetians. Zorzi, 
in another Sirventese, beginning with the words — 

Moux fort me sui d'un clian moravillatz 

Per lui qu' o fetz sitot es dreigz que u plaia ? 

defended his country so warmly that Calvo, sorry 
for what he had said, became one of his greatest 
friends. After spending seven years in prison, 
Zorzi returned to Venice, and the Republic ap- 
pointed him Governor of Corone, where he died. 

In that same 13th century dialect finally triumphed 
in the contest between the chanteurs of religious 
poetry and the jongleurs of heroic ballads. In 
Venice, the short poems of Giacomino di Verona 
were noted, besides the popular didactic poem of 
Gerard Patecelo,or Pateclo di Verona, and the verses 
of a certain Friar Bonvesin, of the Milanese border- 
land, who gives information respecting the laws of 
politeness to his friends by means of legends and 
moral precepts. 

Fra Bonvesin da Riva, ke sta in Borgo Legnian, 
De le cortesie da desce quilb ve dise per man, 
De cortesie cinquanta, ke se den servar al desco, 
Fra Bonvesin de la Riva ve n parla mo de fresco. 


Manners in the Lagoons became little by little 
more refined by intercourse with so many different 
nations, and the rules of politeness laid down by 
the Milanese Friar were also put into practice in the 
Lagoons. The teachings of Brother Bonvesin are 
set forth with a certain courteous simplicity, typical 
of that age. 

'* You must remember the poor when you are 
eating," says the gentle Friar. " You will be nice 
in washing your hands; you must not eat and drink 
too much ; you will remain properly at table, and 
be courteous, well-dressed, and cheerful ; you must 
not fill your mouth too full; you must lift your cup 
with both hands so as not to spill the wine, nor 
must you give it to anybody else, but put it on the 
table. If you begin to sneeze or cough, you must 
turn your head away. You must not grumble at the 
sauces ; you must not dip your bread in the wine ; 
you must offer the best piece to your guest ; you 
must see that your servants are clean ; you must 
keep your hands clean, and not put them in your 
mouth to pick your teeth, nor on your neck, nor in 
your ears ; you must not tell sad news at table — " 
and so on. Thus the Friar patiently gives lessons in 
good breeding. All this shows that they were 
introducing the elegancies of civilized life, down to 
the minutest particulars. 

A Venetian poem of the 12th century, a little lay 
in the Paduan dialect, supposed to be the lament of 
a woman for her husband's absence in the Holy 


Land, probably a fragment of a longer story, reveals 
■charming sentiments, and bas all tbe naive grace of 
girlhood. Wifely affection naturally ' complained of 
the enterprises to Jerusalem, and though there 
must have been much secret sorrowing and weeping 
in silence, the echo of one wife's lamentations bas 
come down to us. 

. . . Me Mario se ne andao 
Kel me cor cum lui a portao, 

■exclaimed the loving spouse, and then adds : 

Eu lui e tutto el me conforto 
Zamai non voi altro deporto 
Ke de lui sol zoia me nasce. 

(If not for him) 

. . . Non ai cura deser bela. 

(Nor do I look in tlie glass). 

It expresses real sorrow and true longing, and tbe 
lady appears to be sincere, innocent, and affectionate, 
very different to the repulsive vulgarity of tbe ballad 
of Nicchio and of the Canto dei Gomari and of tbe 
sombre sentimentality of tbe Chatelaines of cbivalric 
poesy. And when Dante illumined tbe 14tb century 
and originated the grand Italian style, tben Yenice 
counted amongst ber poets the two Querini, one of 
tbem a friend of Alighieri, Amulio da Mula, two 
Foscarini, Marino Dandolo, Bonaventura Baffo, 
Oabriele Bernardo, Maffeo Pesaro, Antonio dalle 
Binde, two Zironi, two Boccasi, Andreolo Ale- 
manno, Jacopo Gradenigo, Lorenzo de Monaci and 
Marino Micbele. 


The conquests of the Venetians in the East, as 
well as the Crusades and chivalry, altered the dress 
of their women. When the weak Byzantine Empire 
fell beneath the fierce onslaught of the Franks and 
Venetians, the latter in 1204 divided the country, 
and the various parts were distributed with a full, 
minute, and exact description of the various places. 
The Venetians, in the partition of the Empire, 
chose, in preference to inland provinces, the sea 
coast, and appropriated the Cyclades and the 
Sporades in the Archipelago, the islands and the 
eastern coast of the Adriatic, the shores bathed by 
the Propontis and Euxiue seas, the maritime regions 
of Thessaly, and many other sea-girt places suitable 
for commerce. But the Senate were shrewd enough 
to understand that, politically speaking, distant 
conquests exhausted the strength of the nation, 
and by a wise decree they granted the Eastern 
lands in fief to those Venetians who conquered 
them at their own expense, on condition that they 
paid homage and tribute to the mother country. 
Vessels were quickly fitted out for the adventurous 
expedition, and the Venetians assembled in arms, 
and started with the intention of acquiring royal 
crowns. The islands of the ^gean Sea were sub- 
divided into little dominions which maintained con- 
stant intercourse with the Lagoons, and remained 
united to Venice by the ties of interest and affec- 
tion. Thus a powerful and feudal nobility was 
formed in the Grecian Isles, and these lords soon 



assumed there the titles of dukes, counts, and mar- 
quises, and became true sovereign princes, whilst 
in Venice they were nothing but plain citizens. The 
wives of these feudatory nobles who left their country 
became princesses and duchesses, and assumed 
aristocratic manners, giving up little by little the 
ideas which, by domestic tradition or imitation, they 
had hitherto maintained, and acquired instead, in 
their intercourse with other nations, quite different 
views. Each of these little principalities had a 
power of its own, but there existed in the islands 
ruled by the Venetians certain conditions similar to 
those prevalent in countries under the dominion of 
the Franks ; therefore the style of living of the 
Governors of Greece, controlled by a feudal code 
of laws called " Statutes of Jerusalem,*' was naturally 
modified by Western chivalry. 

Nel lihro de le Uxance de lo Impert'o de Romania , 
ordered and established da li Serem'ssimi signori lo 
conte Balduino de Flandre^ Miser Bonifacio de ' 
Monteferrato, Miser Bigo Bandolo doxe. There are 
also some regulations concerning women. 

A widow could marry again anybody she liked, 
except an enemy of the family. When a man died 
intestate his wife inherited his household goods 
and freehold estates ; a husband could deprive his 
wife of her bed or her clothes. And the women 
took part in the disputes which so frequently arose, 
and showed both courage and determination. The 
Venetians Andrea and Geremia Ghisi conquered 


Tenos, Myconos, Scyros, Scopelo, Sciati, Amorgos, 
Stampalia, and part of Chios and of Seriphus, the 
other parts of which were divided between Domenico 
Michiel and Pietro Giustiniano; Filocalo Navigaioso 
became Grand Duke of Lemnos ; Marco Venier, 
Margrave of Cerigo; Jacopo Yiari, of Oerigotto; 
Jacopo Barozzi, Lord of Santorin and Therascia; 
Marco Sanudo, Duke of Naxos, and of many other 
of the Cyclades. Marino Dandolo, nephew of the 
great Henry, had taken possession in 3207 of 
Andros, where he founded a powerful state, form- 
ing an alliance with Marco Sanudo of Naxos, who 
had thrown off his allegiance to the Venetian Re- 
public, after having obtained from the Emperor 
Henry supreme power over the Archipelago. 
Marino Dandolo was killed at Zara in a rebellion 
of the people, and left behind him his wife Jelisa 
and an only sister, married to a knight of the Doro 
family. Dandolo having died without offspring, a 
• war arose for his possessions, and lasted seventy 
years. Angelo Sanudo, in virtue of feudal right, 
took possession of Andros, giving up half of it to 
the widow Jelisa and bestowing the other half on 
Jeremy Ghisi, lord of some of the islands of the 
Archipelago. Ghisi desired to appropriate the whole 
of Andros, and with that view attacked Jelisa's 
castle ; she in her turn besought aid from Jacopo 
Querini, whose wife she afterwards became. Querini 
applied to the Republic for assistance, which 
banished Ghisi and confiscated his property. But 


many years passed before Jelisa's possession of the 
Island of Andros was ratified . After this lady's death, 
and when the strife caused by the pretensions of 
the Querini was ended and after the incursions and 
devastations of the pirates, Andros passed into the 
hands of the Sanudi, and in 1362 Fiorenza Sanudo 
was made Duchess of the Archipelago, and she was 
compelled by the Republic to marry again a Vene- 
tian nobleman, Nicolo Sanudo. Florence's daughter 
Maria received after her mother s death the dominion 
of Andros, and another Florence Sanudo came into 
possession in 1376 of the Island of Misos. The 
reigns of these women, who defended their rights 
with energy and courage, were continually disturbed 
by contests, riots, and violence. Thus when woman, 
no longer subject to her husband, becomes mistress 
of herself and her affairs, and has rights to defend, 
she appears under a totally different aspect, and is 
influenced by other circumstances and ideas. 


The Marriages op the Tiepolos — The Dogaressa in 
THE Promissione Ducale — LoiciA da Peata, Wipe op 
THE Doge Riniero Zend — Coronation op the 
DoGAREssA Marchepina Tiepolo — The Wipe op 
Peter Gradenigo — The Power of the Mobility. 

Aftee the conquest of Constantinople the popula- 
tion and wealth of Venice increased to a great 
extent ; the monuments transported thither from 
conquered countries were set up as testimonies to 
the greatness of the Republic, as well as to adorn its 
public buildings. The Venetians, prudent in times 
of peace, exhibited great courage in periods of 
danger, and carried on war easily by themselves, or 
assured the victory to those with whom they allied 
themselves. Venice at that time stood pre-eminent 
amongst all other cities for her splendour, which 
gradually declined in later centuries. Jacopo 
Tiepolo succeeded Pietro Zani in 1229, and his 
wife, Maria Storlato, gave him three sons, Peter, 
Lawrence, and John. The Doge Jacopo, left a 


widower in 1242, married again Gualdrada, the 
sister of King Roger of Sicily, a strong-minded 
woman, who exercised great influence over her 
husband. Thus the blood of Tancred de Haute- 
ville was mingled with the royal blood of Yenice, 
and those women of a race both strong and refined, 
who could add to the numerous examples of valor- 
ous women in those days the wife of Eoger, 
besieged in Tronia in 1060, and the brave Countess 
of Catanzaro, sister to William I., must have made 
their power felt in the Doge's family. 

Fearing lest the Doge and his family might 
arrogate to themselves an undue amount of power, 
the Promissione was instituted, which, while it sur- 
rounded the Ruler and his belongings with all 
respect and pomp, provided at the same time 
against their becoming tyrannical. The Promis- 
sione of the time of Henry Dandolo (1193) is the 
most ancient on record, but that of Jacopo Tiepolo 
(1229) served as foundation and pattern to all the 
rest. By its rules the Doge, after having promised 
to administer justice properly, to promote the 
prosperity of the country, to observe the laws, and 
not to send any letters or embassies to princes 
without the approval of the Council, ended by 
swearing not to accept any gift whatsoever from 
anybody except rose-water, leaves, flowers, sweet- 
smelling herbs, and balm — exceptis aqua rosata^ 
folijs, florihus et herhis odoriferis et halsamo. This 
same oath was also pronounced by the Doge's wife, 


bat the sons and nephews were allowed to offer 
gifts to the head of the State. In the year of 
Tiepolo's coronation a new office was instituted,, 
that of correctors of the Promissione ducale, when 
five patricians were charged in the interregnum 
between the death of one Doge and the election of 
another to examine and correct the solemn promises, 
and, if deemed necessary, to make some additions- 
to them. When Tiepolo, weary of his long and 
glorious reign, renounced his high position, and re- 
tired to his home at St. Augustine, the revisers of 
the Promissione found it necessary to add many 
emendations and restrictions when the Doge Marino 
Morosini, his successor, assumed the reins of 

Tiepolo had unduly sought to aggrandise his 
sons ; Peter, by his influence, was made Governor 
of Milan ; he also led the troops of the Second 
Lombard League to Corte Nova, where he was 
defeated and made prisoner ; the Doge granted in 
fief to John the county of Ossero, after having 
secured for him the appointment of Commander-in- 
Chief to reconquer Zara, besides the office of 
Ambassador ; and lastly, for Lawrence, who after- 
wards became Doge, his father obtained, in 1240, 
the charge of Commander-in-Chief and the fief of 
the County of Veglia. In fact the Tiepolos had 
acquired too much power, which caused distrust ; 
hence in a chapter of the new Promissione of Marino 
Morosini it was set forth that the Doges should not 



in future ask, or get others to ask, for any appoint- 
ments or accept any oflBce beyond the Venetian 

Marino Morosini died in 1253, and Einiero Zeno 
was elected Doge ; the latter had formed ties of re- 
lationship with a powerful family in Frioul, by 
marrying Loicia da Prata. It is stated very dis- 
tinctly in the Promissione of Zeno the gifts that a 
Dogaressa might accept. If the wife, sons, 
daughters, and daughters-in-law of the Doge, who 
lived in the Palace with him, went beyond the city- 
gates, they might accept gifts of viands, beasts, 
wild and domestic fowls, only ad comedendum. 

The Doge made his wife take an oath not to ask 
for any office or administration for anybody, not to 
make solicitations or prayers, not to send letters or 
messages to the Doge in favour or condemnation of 
anybody. The Government did not wish the Doge's 
family to influence him in any way. The former 
Doge had promised the same things, but only in the 
Promissione del Zeno is the Dogaressa especially 
mentioned, as also for the first time there are sum- 
maries to the chapters. 

Thus the chapter relating to gifts is headed : 
" Quod ducissa, jilii^ fili'e, nurus domini duds jurare 
deheani de non recipiendo servicium vel donum aut 
jpreseus pro se^ 

And the other chapter we mentioned is headed : 
" De non dando ojperam quod certa persona eligatur 
vel non eligatur in officiisy vel regiminibus et de jura- 



mento quod fiieri debet su^er hoc per ducissam et jilios 
et nurus, et quod preces non facienty 

Einiero Zeno received the news of his election in 
Fermo, of which he was governor. 

Twelve patricians were chosen to go out to meet 
him on ships, gaily adorned for the occasion ; and 
the f6tes in his honour were so numerous and 
splendid that a contemporary chronicler affirms : '' Que 
ce serait merveille don conterP And the same annalist 
adds that Zeno's reign was happy, and that in his 
time was completed the Piazza di San Marco, la plus 
hele qui so it en tot li monde. But in spite of all the 
mundane festivities, religion was not forgotten, and 
the Dogaressa, who was very charitable, erected a 
hospital contiguous to the campanile di San Marco, 
on the site where had formerly stood the hospital of 
Doge Peter Orseolo II. Loicia survived her husband, 
and became the executrix of his charitable designs ; he 
bequeathed large sums of money to various religious 
communities, to chapters of collegiate churches, to 
monasteries and to hospitals. In a paragraph of 
his will, he mentions his wife in these words : 
" Domince Ducissce uxori nostrce inter suam repromis' 
sam, dona et dimissorias quce hahuit in potestate 
nostra lihras tres mille, et omnia sua indumenta, et 
pelles et arcellam suam nuptiatem, cum rebus quas 
adduxit quando earn in uxorem accepimus, et duas 
plumacios, quos et quas pro se eligere voluerit, et alios 
sex lectos ornatos pro sua familia, et de cokopertoriis 
et tinteaminibus, et de alio Massaritico quantum sihi 


et sum familice sufficiens erit secundum discretionem 
nostrorum Gomissariorum,''^ 

The Doge gave his wife the right, besides, to 
inhabit, as long as she lived, the largest house 
belonging to the Zenos, and to enjoy the rent of 
thirteen other houses, which were let. At Loicia's 
death, the money, dresses, furs, the nuptial coffer, 
with the robes, beds, mattresses, quilts, and feather 
beds, were all to be left for the profit of the poor in 
the Hospital of Sta. Maria. 

Zeno's successor was Lawrence Tiepolo (1268- 
3 276). By degrees the desire to pay to the head of 
a powerful and wealthy Republic all due honour and 
respect, led to solemn homage being oifered to the 
Dogaressa. Tiepolo, having lost his first wife, Agnes 
Ghisi, married secondly Marchesina, daughter of 
Bohemund of Brienne, King of E-ascia and Servia. 
The day following the Doge's election, the Fraternity 
of the Arts went first to the Ducal Palace to offer 
congratulations to the new chief of the Republic, 
and thence proceeded in a long procession to the 
street of St. Augustin, where lived the Dogaressa 
Marchesina, who returned their salutations very 
courteously with words and gesticulations. The de- 
scription of the procession of the arts, a triumphal 
display of industry and wealth, is given with evident 
accuracy by Da Canale. 

First came the blacksmiths with their banner, and 
garlands on their heads ; then followed the furriers, 
some of them richly adorned with ermine and 


miniver, others with dresses cf amaranth (a kind of 
stuff) and taffeta, trimmed with fur ; then followed in 
proper order, singing, and accompanied by trumpets 
and cymbals, and carrying silver goblets and phials 
filled with wine, the weavers ; the tailors, in white 
vests adorned with red stars, their surplices and 
mantles lined with skins ; the cloth manufacturers, 
carrying branches of olive, and their heads crowned 
with wreaths of olive ; the cotton-spinners, clad in 
coats and mantles of fustian ; the manufacturers of 
coverlets and vests, with garlands of gilt pearls on 
their heads, and white capes adorned with fleurs 
de luce-, the manufacturers of gold and purple 
cloth, with gilt hoods on their heads, and 
beautiful strings of gold beads; the shoemakers; 
the mercers, clad in silks and handsome stuffs ; 
the pork-butchers, with scarlet gowns, trimmed 
with grey miniver; the fishmongers, in coats 
adorned with miniver ; the glaziers, clad in hand- 
some scarlet vests ; the master comb-makers ; the 
goldsmiths, adorned with sapphires, emeralds, 
topazes, jacinths, amethysts, rubies, jasper, car- 
buncles, and other stones of great value. The 
most curious and remarkable of all was the pro- 
cession of barbers, which shows how certain 
chivalrous usages had become popular, even in the 
Lagoons. They proceeded with their heads crowned 
with wreaths and pearls, accompanied by two armed 
men on horseback, who, in the dress of knights 
errant, led four damsels, strangely accoutred. 


When they arrived before the Doge Tiepolo, one 
of the knights dismounted, and said — 

" Sire, we are knights errant, and have wandered 
about in search of adventures ; and we have taken 
such pains, and toiled so hard, that at last we have 
conquered these four damsels. We have now come 
to your Court, and if there is any knight bold 
enough to come forth and prove his valour by 
winning from us these foreign damsels, we are 
ready to fight in their defence ! " 

The Doge replied courteously, congratulating 
them upon their conquest, and assuring them that 
nobody at his Court wished to enter the lists 
against them. The knight errant then re-mounted 
his horse, and the barbers, amidst music, singing, 
and vivats, proceeded to St. Augustine, where they 
were graciously welcomed by the Dogaressa. All 
the arts afterwards met at a sumptuous banquet. 

Such festivals might, in the shrewd opinion of 
the rulers, be allowed, as long as they added to the 
glory of the State, but they must never be per- 
mitted to increase the power of any one family. 
Hence the assiduity they manifested in having the 
laws of the ducal Promisswm confirmed. Thus, in 
1275, Jacopo Contarini, successor of Tiepolo, not 
only had to make his wife swear to observe the 
article relating to gifts, but he swore besides not to 
allow the Dogaressa to receive aliquod Phendum vel 
Phenda ullo modo vel ingenio. The same Promis- 
sione did not permit the Dogaressa to contract 


debts, or to undertake speculations in wheat, wine, 
or salt. It restricted still more the right of accept- 
ing gifts, and in the Fromissione of John Dandolo 
(1280-1289) they repeated at the end of the chapter 
the words, limiting the permission to those gifts 
only which could be eaten. 

In 1312, we find mentioned in a deliberation of 
the Grand Council the name of the Dogaressa con- 
cerning some taxes, which she was no longer to pay 
in piccoli, but in grossi, to the Dean of the Basilica 
of St. Mark. 

One more important correction was introduced 
into the aforementioned Fromissione of Contarini. 
His ancestor, Lorenzo Tiepolo, had married a 
Princess of Eascia, and James, son of Lawrence, a 
Slavonian Princess, who brought in dowry much 
landed property. They were anxious to prevent 
these alliances with foreign princesses, and there- 
fore obliged Jacopo Contarini, who was eighty years 
old when elected (1275), to promise that he would 
not marry alien princesses without the sanction of 
the Council. John Soranzo (1312) repeated the 
promise in these words : " Martagium aliqiiod de 
nobis vet jilio^ aut filiis^ filia^ vel jiliahus nostris^ 
nepti vel neptibus nostri Jilii v. z, filiarum filiorum 
nostrorum cum aliquo foresterio facere non possiimiis 
nee debemus nisi de voluntate nostror, consiliarior vel 
majori's partis M. 0." 

They always expected that a nobleman's lineage 
would mark the decline of national prosperity. 


There was always mucli rejoicing wben a daughter 
of Venice married a prince of a distant country, 
as, for instance, when Thomasina Morosini became, 
in 1290, Queen of Hungary; but careful precautions 
were taken if, on the contrary, a foreign princess 
entered the Palace of the Doges. And their fears 
were reasonable. The Government was, in outward 
form, democratic, it is true ; but the share allowed 
the people in public affairs was limited and illusory, 
whilst they expected the right of approving the 
Prince's deliberations. The people now and then 
made use of their prerogative, as, for instance, when 
Doraenico Selvo (1070) was proclaimed Doge by 
popular acclamation, the choice being afterwards 
confirmed by the nobility ; but the actual rulers 
were a few families like the Participazi, the 
Candianos, the Orseolos, the Tiepolos, all eager 
to make the supreme dignity of the State here- 
ditary, and anxious to raise their relations to 
the highest civil and ecclesiastical offices. The 
Tiepolo family attained such a powerful position 
that they quite considered themselves princes. Prin- 
cesses of blood royal, likely to foster or strengthen 
an insensate ambition, were forbidden henceforth to 
share the ducal crown. The Venetian aristocracy 
were in future to seek within themselves power and 
love to aggrandize their native land, and to render 
their families more honourable and respected. The 
representative of these new ideas was Peter 
Gradenigo, elected Doge in 1289. Instead of seek- 


ing a wife in strange lands, he married a lady 
belonging to one of the most illustrious Venetian 
houses, a niece and namesake in fact of Thomasina 
Morosini, Queen of Hungary. Peter had by his 
wife Thomasina, Paul, Nicholas, Matthew, James, 
John, and a daughter called Anna, who married 
James of Carrara, lord of Padua. Peter Gradenigo, 
fully convinced that only an oligarchy could save 
Venice from the tyranny of one ruler, and the capri- 
cious administration of the people, had a law passed 
in 1297 which was much discussed, and called most 
inappropriately Serrata del Maggior Consilio. The 
Serrata, by which no one was admitted who had not 
formed part of the Council during the four preceding 
years, was not a violent measure, or, as it would be 
called at the present day, un coup d^etat, bat it es- 
tablished liberty on a firmer basis by curbing the 
ambitious projects of the great and the caprices of the 
people. Democracies, which encourage fruitful and 
brilliant innovations, have also certain defects. The 
cities of France, Italy, and Belgium, which had their 
own peculiar and restless administrations by the 
continual changes in the Government and the want 
of foresight, felt quite weakened and overwhelmed 
by the formation of the great European monarchies ; 
the latter hated these little democracies, and managed 
in time to absorb them. At a later date Louis XI. 
founded on the feudal constitution and the free cities 
of France a powerful monarchy, and strengthened it 
by all those artifices of external policy which tend 


to enlarge a State. The Spanish monarchy dated 
from the time of the expulsion of the Moors ; soon 
after the dynasties of Austria and Germany acquired 
power. Italy became, in the meanwhile, the arena 
for strangers of every kind, who, led on by jealousy 
and ambition, were constantly at war. Whilst the 
Yiscontis established in Milan the evil tyranny, and 
in Florence the disputes between the greater and 
lesser arts paved the way for tyranny, Venice, 
standing aloof, watched the storms whirl past, and, 
thanks to the wisdom of her nobility, preserved her 
independence, which a democratic Government, with 
its many changes would have destroyed. Venetian 
liberty, restrained by good regulations, was due to 
the power of the aristocracy, who not only protected 
the freedom of their country, but enhanced her power 
and reputation. Those chiefs of an elective and 
powerful aristocracy, who transmitted their au- 
thority almost as an heritage, preserved the Vene- 
tian Republic from constant changes of Government, 
and endowed it with a store of traditions and that 
prescience in the administration of external policy 
which was apparently the especial prerogative of 
great dynasties. In fact, these families constituting 
the power of the Republic formed, so to say, a group 
of dynasties, holding in turns the reins of government 
with the noble purpose of shielding Venice from the 
principalities which, pressing gradually closer round 
the other Italian cities, encroached upon their 
freedom. Besides, Republican Governments are 


often composed of men unacquainted with State 
reasons, having arrived at supreme power not only 
by their talent, but also by intrigue or good 
luck. In Venice generations of statesmen existed 
who in early years knew that they would be called 
to the administration of public affairs, and were 
prepared and trained solely for that purpose. Thus 
an aggregate of deep and accumulated thought was 
given to the interests of the Republic, at an epoch 
when the rulers of other nations, having passed 
from a period of splendour to one of decadence, 
envied and hated each other, seizing in turn the 
reins of government, and so intent on their private 
quarrels as to lose sight of external clangers, em- 
ploying, in a manner, foreign policy to ruin the 
State at home. The Venetian nobles, on the con- 
trary, had, as often happens with aristocracies 
destined to endure, a certain conscientiousness in 
governing, besides a certain fidelity to their caste. 
We do not pretend to say that the same kind of 
Eepublic would answer at the present day, but the 
administration of the chief men in the State, a great 
anomaly between two normal things — that is to say, 
the government of all and that of one, which equa- 
lizes all in a common tyranny, the dominion of the 
chief men — was best for Venice, considering the then 
state of affairs in Italy and Europe. 


The Cots^spiracies in Venice in the 14th Centitrt — 


Never has any innovation, opposed to instituted 
customs, been established suddenly, and the great 
change brought about by Peter Gradenigo, which 
destroyed the ambitious hopes of many citizens and 
laid the foundation of an hereditary aristocracy, 
gave rise to many secret conspiracies, threatening 
to burst forth into open revolt. But the Republic, 
thanks to vigilance and good fortune, always 
managed to come off victorious. These conspiracies, 
however, kept the city in a ferment, and frequently 
brought mourning to both patrician and plebeian 
families. Domestic misfortunes were interwoven 
with political vicissitudes, and even in the family of 
the head of the State woman appears to us sur- 
rounded by a halo of sorrow and sacrifice. 

A conspiracy framed in 1300 by Marino Bocconio 
was discovered, and Bocconio, with ten of his prin- 


cipal confederates, was hanged between two columns 
at the palace gate. 

In 1310 the patrician Mark Querini, together 
with his son-in-law, Baiamonte Tiepolo, and some 
members of the Badoer, Barozzi, and Doro families, 
conspired against Grradenigo, and, accompanied by a 
number of armed men, ran through the streets call- 
ing out, " Death to the Doge." It is not necessary 
to remind our readers how the rebels were defeated, 
Querini and his son killed, whilst, Baiamonte Tiepolo 
was condemned to life-long exile. The Republic, 
cold and inflexible, soon punished the rebels, feeling 
that the salvation of Yenice depended upon the 
severity of her laws. The patricians understood 
that lofty feeling of duty which impresses upon the 
mind the sentiment of a fatal necessity. All talents, 
all riches, all power, were devoted to the country; 
everything must be sacrificed for it. The vigilant 
eye of the State penetrated the secrets of private 

After the conspiracy of Tiepolo Querini, we have 
an example of the unbending but just severity of 
Venice in the sad fate of Soranza Soranzo, daughter 
of the Doge John, elected in 1312. Soranza married 
Nicolo Querini, surnamed il Zotto^ and to be the wife 
of a Querini was considered in her case a very grave 
fault. She, with other relations of the rebels, was 
sent into exile, but at the end of four years, longing 
to revisit her family, she implored in vain for per- 
mission to return to Venice. Eelying upon the 


influence of her father the Doge, she arrived in 
Venice contrary to the commands of the Council of 
Ten, and she was sentenced, on the 28th of June, 
1314, to perpetual seclusion in a remote part of the 
city, in osjpicio apud Sanctam Mariam de verginibus. 

The banishment was rigid and complete. The 
Doge's daughter lived thus for many monotonous 
years, constantly bemoaning her lost liberty, and with 
a servant girl for her only companion, who was 
allowed to go out merely jpro lavandis paunis et aim 
negociis necessariis faciendis. When Soranza became 
a widow she was sometimes permitted to visit her 
aged father, to assist at some religious ceremonies, 
and to walk in the garden of the Yirgins' Nunnery. 

Even permission to issue forth into the open air 
was no doubt a boon in such a position as hers, and 
we are led to suppose, by the numerous petitions she 
sent to the Council of Ten, that as time went on the 
desire to end her days in her own home became more 
intense. But vain were all her endeavours to obtain 
greater concessions. She never recovered her liberty, 
and died about 1349, after an imprisonment of 
twenty-five years. 

Time and circumstances rendered such sternness 
imperative. That same Doge, Giovanni Soranza, 
realised the fact that a man's position and a father's 
tenderness were as nothing compared to the welfare 
of the State. 

Venice was convulsed during the whole of the 
14th century by tumults, which were organised 
secretly beside the domestic hearth, then burst forth 


in the open streets and ended in bloodshed. Craftj 
and wicked men, either from vanity or a desire to 
rule, managed to excite the passions of the populace, 
who frequently assembled with fierce determination 
in the Piazza. The Government, when thus threa- 
tened, suppressed all revolt, all ambition, with vigour, 
and in self-defence imposed fresh punishments. 

Amdist the many conspiracies of the fourteenth 
century, that of Marino Faliero is best known, on ac- 
count of the many legends concerning it invented by 
poets, novelists, artists, and even a few historians. 

Thus, for instance, in the paintings of Fleury and 
Delacroix, the rebel prince is represented as be- 
headed on the Giant's staircase, which was erected 
nearly a hundred years later by Antony Rizzo, and 
Faliero is described in Byron's drama as a sort of 
Brutus in the Doge's dress. 

•* We will renew the times of truth and justice, 
Condensing in a fair free Commonwealth 
Not rash equality, but equal rights." 

A Republican of our own days would use the 
same words. Byron also describes the decapitation 
of the Doge as taking place between the two marble 
colossi, which were erected by Jacopo Sansovino in 
1566, and places in the mouth of the rebellious 
prince those lines beginning — 

" I speak to Time and to Eternity, 
Of which I grow a portion, not to man," &c. 

And in prophetic accents the Doge, before the 
Council of Ten and all the patricians, curses 
Venice, predicting that she would shortly see a 



senate of slaves rule the beggarly patricians and 
the debased populace. 

These violent imprecations may be excused when 
we consider the time in which Byron lived, but 
certainly did not apply as long as the Republic 
endured. No city was ever more wrongly judged 
than Venice, no Grovernment less understood, no 
people worse described. It was believed that this 
nation, full of jocund life, was surrounded by spies, 
secret prisons, and executioners. The appearance of 
the city contributed not a little to these mistaken 
notions. We can understand Byron, Cooper, and 
Victor Hugo imagining all kinds of gloomy mysteries 
when they found themselves in her narrow and 
tortuous streets, with mysterious porticoes, whence 
the lantern's pale light was reflected in the dark 
waters of the Lagoons. " The city resembles a 
dream," wrote Byron, "its story is like a romance." 
And in truth the poet, instead of consulting the 
time-stained annals, invented traditions of which 
the reality existed only in his vivid fancy. Byron, 
before writing his Faliero, never attempted to refer 
to the writings of Sanudo, Sandi, ISTavagero, the 
History of the Siege of Zara, Langen, Sismondi, 
Daru, but allowed his imagination to be excited by 
the tomb of Faliero in the Church of Santi Giovanni 
e Faolo,"^ by the staircase where he believed the 

* Marino Faliero was buried in the atrium of the now des- 
troyed Chapel of the Madonna delta jyace in the Church of Santi 
Giovanni e Paolo. In the first years of this century the Doge's 
ashes were scattered to the winds, and the urn that held them 
conveyed inland and made into a drinking trough for cattle. 


Doge to have been crowned and afterwards be- 
headed, and by the black veil painted upon the 
spot where the portrait of the rebel prince ought to 
hang, near the other Doges. The poet wished to 
make the life and action of the drama arise out of 
Faliero's jealousy, but knowing that jealousy was a 
hackneyed subject on the stage, described by toa 
many writers, and especially by Shakespeare, in a 
manner so perfect he could not excel it, decided to 
choose for his theme offended pride and an enthu- 
siastic love of liberty. It is true that Sandi and 
other historians hint at the jealous suspicion of the 
Doge, but add, " that not only the desire of ven- 
geance decided him to join the conspiracy, but alsa 
his innate ambition, which made him long to be- 
come an iudependent prince.'' Caresini, Grand 
Chancellor of the Eepublic, and an eye-witness of 
what he narrates, does not mention the Dogaressa 
nor Steno's offence, declaring that the Doge con- 
spired deeply to the prejudice of the State, insti- 
gated thereto by an evil spirit. Sansovino, on the 
contrary, afl&rms that the cause of the conspiracy 
was the injury done to the honour of the Doge, and 
not punished as he deemed right, the notion of his 
wishing to reign supreme being absurd, for he was 
80 years old and had no sons. Julius Faroldo, a 
priest of Cremona, goes farther, and says that 
Faliero devised the plot 'out of revenge, being old, 
and having a young wife, who was said to have 
misbehaved herself with certain young noblemen. 


and that these had only been slightly punished by 
the Avogadori, and indignities are heaped upon 
the poor Dogaressa. It is affirmed that somebody 
wrote on the Doge's throne, " Marino Faliero, 
cuckold," and that such an epithet was really 
applicable. Another writes : " He had a beautiful 
wife, and other nobles won her; the said Marino 
complained of the disgrace and outrage he had 
received, and it appeared that the Venetian nobles 
subjugated him, he lost patience, and put into 
execution," &c., &c. 

But to turn to later histories, even Sismondi says 
that Faliero conspired against Venice on account of 
the outrage committed by Steno on his beautiful 
young wife, of whom he was madly jealous ; and 
Langier, after making sad remarks on the Doge's 
death, concludes by saying that resentment for a 
slight injury filled his heart with such bitterness that 
it sufficed to corrupt his former virtue, and led him 
to a criminal's death. But in reality Faliero' s con- 
spiracy did not arise from a private feud, and the 
old Doge's wife, who was not, as some historians 
say, a beautiful and amiable young girl, had nothing 
to do with the tragic drama. 

Towards the middle of the fourteenth century a 
man of 80 years of age, but of a most determined 
character, was elected Doge, Marino Faliero, a wise 
politician, a brave soldier, possessed of much valu- 
able knowledge, but scant courtesy. In fact, when 
governor of Treviso, he had not feared to cuff the 

H , 


bishop because he had kept him waiting at a re- 
ligious festival. Faliero was envoy of the Republic 
at the Roman Court when he received the news of 
his election. 

Let us follow Sanudo in his account of " The 
Lives of the Dukes of Yenice." 

" It was decided in the Grand Council to elect 
twelve ambassadors to meet Marino Faliero, the 
Doge, who journeyed from Eome. 

" He quitted Rome, and arrived at Chioggia ; the 
governor sent Thaddeus. Guistiniani, his son, to 
meet him with fifteen Ganzaruoli. On his arrival 
at St, Clement's a thick fog arose, whereupon the 
Doge took to the boats and landed on the Piazza 
(October 10th, 1354) between two columns, where 
all public executions took place, and it was con- 
sidered of very bad augury." 

And further on : " This Doge, having ruled eight 
months and six days, and being ambitious and 
cunning, wished to become absolute master of 
Venice. I also saw that he was very indignant 
because these words : * Marino Faliero, the husband 
of a fair wife, he keeps her, whilst others kiss her,' 
were found on the Ducal chair. A certain Michael 
Steno was accused of the deed, he being the chief 
of the Council of Forty. He was taken by the 
Avogadori before the Council of Forty. Afterwards 
he was beaten with a fox's tail, condemned to one 
month's imprisonment, and to pay a hundred pounds 
into the public treasury. A punishment so slight 


for sucli an indigaifcy offered to him, angered the 
Doge, and he began to plot against Venice." 

Sanudo goes on to relate, with many particulars, 
how the conspiracy originated. At a certain fete in 
the Ducal Palace, Michael Steno, having fallen in love 
with one of the Dogaressa's maids, took liberties, 
and the Doge ordered him to be turned out of the 
room ; to revenge himself, Michael, that same night, 
fastened the famous placard to the Doge's throne. 
Faliero, considering that the penalty inflicted for 
such an insult was far too lenient, began to concert 
a conspiracy with the Admiral of the Arsenal, who 
had been offended by a nobleman of the Barbaro 
family. Many joined Faliero, and amongst others 
Philip Calendario, according to tradition the archi- 
tect of the Ducal Palace. Biit a certain Beltramo 
Bergamosco betrayed them to a patrician, Nicholas 
Lioni, who was his friend. He revealed the rank 
and number of the conspirators, who were at once 
imprisoned and hanged. " And on Friday, April 
16th," continues Sanudo, " the Council of Ten 
decreed that Messer Marino Faliero should be 
beheaded on the landing-place of the stone stair- 
case, where the Doges take their oaths when they 
first enter the palace." 

On the following day, the palace gates being 
closed, the said Doge's head was cut off before he 
came down the staircase. And when the execution 
was over it is said that one member of the Council 
of Ten went towards the pillars of the palace on the 


piazza and held up the bloody sword to the view of 
the people, crying out in a loud voice : " Condign 
punishment has overtaken the traitor ! " The doors 
being thrown open, the people rushed in to behold 
the body of the Doge. All Faliero's property was 
confiscated to the State, with the exception of two 
thousand ducats, of which he was allowed the dis- 
posal. The Prince's corpse was conveyed by night 
in a boat with eight torch-bearers, and buried in its 
coffin in the Church of Santi Giovanni e Paolo, 
Historical critics, however, consider this account of 
the conspiracy a mere fable. The records of the 
Quarantia contradict, in a great measure, this 
popular tradition, and Marino Sanudo, who wrote 
the above whilst still a youth, made afterwards in 
the margin of his chronicles, if not exactly altera- 
tions, at least some remarks implying disbelief, no 
doubt after having received further and more 
authentic information on the subject. The real 
cause of Marino Faliero forming a conspiracy was 
his inborn ambition. It is absurd to say that hi& 
being an octogenarian without sons proved that he 
could have no desire for supreme power. Family 
pride must have been a ruling passion in a man of 
Faliero's temperament, and there is no doubt 
that he contemplated securing to his lineage the 
sovereignty of Venice, using, like all candidates 
for pre-eminence in the State, popular discontent 
as his tool. An important document throws some 
light upon the subject. Therein it is narrated that 


a certain Peter Badoer, being at a feast in Crete, when 
he heard Faliero mentioned, exclaimed, " Quid dicitis 
vos de Domino Marino Faletro? Ipse fuit mtimus 
amicus mens et reperi me quando fuit f actus dux. Si 
ego me reperissem quando occurrit illud factum et 
ipse misisset pro me et dixisset: Petre ego volo tihi 
dare Vallem Mareni et facere te magnum dominum; 
qualiter potuisse dicere de non? Et postea dixit: Vere, 
si ego fuissem ibi et ipse misisset pro me ilia nor a, 
ego fecissem statim. sihi venire ducentos homines et si 
dixisset mi hi . , . mea die ante, ego fecissem venire 

The above tends to prove that Badoer would have 
aided the Doge in his ambitious designs. Let us 
see if historical criticism confirms the important 
share which popular tradition, according to 
Nicholas Gradenigo, assigns to Aulica or Louisa, 
Faliero's wife, in the sad drama which ended in the 
Doge's death. There is no doubt that private enmity 
existed between the Palieros and Stenos. In a small 
manuscript of only a few pages, belonging to the 
archive of the Quarantia, preserved at the present 
day in that of the Frari, an act of violence is entered 
on September 15th, 1343, as having been com- 
mitted upon a certain Sarah, a slave of Peter 
Faliero, by Paul belonging to James Steno, and he 
was afterwards punished, by a year's incarceration 
in the prison at Pozzi, and a fine of 300 pounds. 
This may, in a manner, account for the people's 
legend, in which the vindictive fury of the aged and 


passionate Prince is said to have arisen from the 
insult offered by one of the Steno family to the 

It was not at all unusual for notes to be affixed 
to the Ducal throne. The Misti oi the Council of 
Ten (Dec. 20th and January 14th, 1350) allude to 
insulting placards against the Doge Andrea Dlandoo, 
which were attached to his chair in the Church of 
St. Mark and at Rialto, and even against the Doge 
Michael Steno (October, 1402). The Dogaressa, 
after her husband's tragic end, left the confiscated 
houses of the " Holy Apostles " for those of Saint 
Severus. How sad life must have then appeared 
to her ! The pomp of power became for her but a 
shadowy memory ; the city, filled with people all 
busy and joyful, was transformed for her into avast 
desert, in which her thoughts wandered aimlessly. 
Little by little her mind became obscured, but 
before losing her intellect the unfortunate lady 
dictated her testament, drawn up by the lawyer 
Pietro Sperito, anno domini millesimo trecentesimo 
octuagesimo quarto, mensis octohris die XIV intrante 
indictione octava Bivoalti. This open declaration of 
her last wishes contains no allusion whatever to 
Marino Faliero's dreadful death, not even when the 
testatrix mentions her dead friends. There are two 
more wills of hers in existence ; one written by the 
notary Chiaruti, March 7th, 1385, and another 
bearing date March 7th, 1387, transcribed on the 
register of Leone di Ravalon, notary in the office of 


Imjprestidi (Loans). In this last document, the 
poor lady, half mad, her mind deteriorating day by 
day, and of great age, mentions her husband merely 
by name, without giving him his titles. The life of 
the aged Dogaressa was unhappy and harassed to 
the end, since to the unhins^ino^ of her intellect, 
caused by painful memories, was added the con- 
tinual persecution of relations who aspired to the 
inheritance, and then went to law concerninof the 
validity of one of the three wills. Nor can we 
understand why the lawyers declared the first and 
third testaments null and void, acknowledging the 
second to be valid, which, according to their verdict, 
was considered as the first, and dictated by the 
Dogaressa whilst she was in her right mind. 
Historical criticism can now see this unhappy lady 
under another aspect, and certainly to her many 
sorrows there is no reason for adding^ Steno's 
wicked assertion. From the extract made by 
Sanudo, in the fifteenth century, of some portions of 
the register of the Tribunal of Forty, unfortunately 
lost afterwards, it does not appear that in Steno's 
famous writing there is any allusion to the Doge's 
wife. "We find, in fact, on the 10th of November, 
1354, this magistrate charged the Avogadon di 
comun to imprison and examine the culpahiles de 
scrijpturis factis in Sola caminorum (of the Doge) : 
cosa turpis et inhonesta, which proved magnum 
dedecus et vituperium tofius terroe^ and consequently 
required that, jpro bono exemplo aliorum, fiat inde 


quod spectat Jionori nostra. The accused were 
Michael Steno, John, Peter Bollani, Richard 
Mariani, Moretto Zorzi, Michael Molin, and Maffio 
Morosini ; the accusation, the insults written on 
the Doge's chimney-piece, and precisely, by Steno, 
in vituperium domini duct's, et eius nepotis. What, 
therefore, has the wife to do with it ? The word 
nepotis would lead us to suppose they meant that 
Marino whom the old Doge calls diletto nipote in his 
will of March 31st, 1328, written by the notary 
Mark Semitecoio. In fact, in public Venetian deeds 
nepos is distinct from neptis. Nevertheless, Ducange 
gives us examples of nepos used in the feminine 
gender ; therefore we may with reason suppose, and 
it appears more likely, that a niece of the Doge's is 
meant, the more so as many contemporary chroniclers 
allude to a young lady as having been insulted. 

This would suffice to refute the popular tradition 
concerning the insult offered by Steno to the 
Dogaressa. There is, besides, another circumstance 
worthy of note. As the age of the Doge's nephews 
tallies with that of Steno and of other distinguished 
adolescentuti nobiles, from the segurtade de VimprO' 
messa de Luica, stated by the Venetian notary Semite- 
coio, on September 20th, 1335, and existing in the 
Archivio notarile, we may with confidence assert 
that at the time of the famous note Louisa Gradenigo 
was past forty. And is it probable that a lady of 
mature age would excite the spiteful calumny of a 
a Venetian youth ? 


Besides, little or nothing is found in the official 
Acts of the Council of Ten referring to the Ealiero 
conspiracy. Volume Y. of the Libri Misti is missing, 
as far as 1611, although the chronological order does 
not suffer by the break, Book YI. containing the docu- 
ments from 1348 to 1363. It seems, therefore, that 
the trial of the Doge, by its length and importance, 
filled a whole volume, which volume must have been 
number five, either destroyed by chance or on 

We may also mention, as a further confirmation 
of our argument, that the placard was attached to 
the ducal chair on Shrove Tuesday of the year pre- 
ceding the discovery of the abortive conspiracy, and 
that the text of that placard as transmitted by 
certain writers must be apocryphal. 

Marin Falier — da la hela mugier I altri la gode — e 
lu la mantien is not the Yenetian style of writing in 
the fourteenth century ; it wants the tone of that 
time, without taking into consideration our know- 
ledge that nezza ought to be written instead of mugier^ 
since the wife of the Doge's nephew was a certain 
Christine Contarini, and from it arises the mistake 
in the legend which gives a Contarini as the wife of 
theDoge himself, whilst there is no doubt, historically 
speaking, that he took for his second wife a lady 
of the Gradenigo family. 

If it was not the insult to his wife which caused 
Faliero to conspire against his country, the legend 
which arose concerning the Dogaressa Aloisa is 


entirely false, and she was in that ease not even the 
indirect cause of private disgrace and of grave peril 
to the State. 

We gather from all this that the principal cause 
of the conspiracy must be sought in the mind of the 
Doge himself, and in the circumstances which put 
ambitious designs into his head, since the insult 
offered, not to his wife, but to his nephew, or, more 
properly speaking, to his niece, can only have 
fanned into flame the smouldering fire of his 

Around these facts tradition has woven fabulous 
tales of love and personal revenge. During the 
14th century the city was in reality agitated and 
convulsed on the one hand by a vague and widely- 
spread tendency to rebellion against the aristocracy, 
and on the other by the ambition of a few nobles, 
desirous of becoming absolute masters of Venice. 
Whilst the other Italian cities fell a prey to the 
tyranny of despots, and lost every semblance of 
freedom, in Venice the sternness, tempered by 
wisdom, of the patricians, saved the city from the 
despotism of one man. But the blood of Bocconio, 
of the Querini, of Faliero, could not then tranquillize 
men's minds. It silenced every rebellious voice, 
but amidst that silence there were signs of restless- 
ness, discontent, feverish anxiety, evidenced occa- 
sionally by threats, mysterious conspiracies and 
mutinies. Thus, for instance, Sanudo, in words 
full of meaning, mentions having read in an 


ancient chronicle: " If Lorenzo Celsi, the Doge, had 
not died at the age of fifty-seven, after a reign of 
four years, he would have ended like Marino 
Faliero; " and adds that it had been proposed by 
the Corretton, after his death, " that if it should be 
decided by the councillors in the Council to alter 
the Government of Venice, the Doge would have to 
abdicate and leave the Palace, under pain of all his 
household and freehold property being confiscated. 
In fact, on the 30th of July, 1365, the Council of 
Ten deliberated, pro omni respectu honi lacerentur, et 
destruentur omnes testificationes et Scripture, Jiic lecfe, 
de domino Laurentio Celsi, olim duce Veneciarum, et 
de eis nulla mentio fiat ullo tempore pro bono Stratus 
nostri, quia non est de necessitate. 

Had there been any daring reform attempted 
during Celsi's reign ? Had the Doge insisted upon 
it, or had he favoured the opinions of the council- 
lors ? This supposition is contradicted by another 
decree of the Council of Ten, in which it is 
prescribed, for the glory of God and the welfare of 
the city, to pur gar e infamiam levatam contr a dominum 
Laurentium Celsi, olim ducem Veneciarum, post mortem 
auam, and to publish cum verbis generalibus qualiter 
ipse dominus dux fuit mfamatus per aliquos, post 
mortem suam de rebus quas dicebaiur cornmisisse con^ 
tra honor em commies Veneciarum. 

Such an ordinance, defending Celsi's reputation, 
was probably suggested as a prudent reservation. 
At all events, the above tends to prove that distrust 


existed in the Ducal Palace to the same extent as 
threats and discontent in the city. By degrees the 
secret and latent inclination towards rebellion and 
surexcitation existing in the public mind died away. 
The people grew accustomed to the new order of 
things, and found means of extending their po wer 
through the trades' guilds and the monkish 


A Plebeian "Woman on the Throne op the Doges — 
The Dogaeessa in the Promissione. 

Mark Coenaro was chosen Doge in succession to 
Lawrence Celsi. But his election met with opposi- 
tion, and amongst other objections raised against 
him it was said by John Dolfino that Cornaro had 
married a young plebeian girl, with many relations, 
who might easily enter the Palace, and divulge State 
secrets. Apparently a noble patriotism prompted 
this protest, but it was merely a cloak to conceal 
the jealousy of the aristocracy, who, having increased 
in power, wished to keep the people aloof from the 
Government. Cornaro, a white-headed octogenarian, 
of noble aspect, thin, pale, and of erect carriage, 
rose from his seat and replied to the accusations of 
Dolfino that he was not the only nobleman who had 
a plebeian wife, but he did not for that reason love 
his country any the less ; he esteemed much his 
wife Catharine, for she had such good manners and 


was so excellent, that she had always been as highly 
thought of by ladies in all lands and towns as if 
she belonged to one of the greatest families in 
Venice, and in conclusion, he knew his wife's re- 
lations, and although they were not noble, they 
were devoted to the interests of the Republic. One 
chronicler mentions one little detail which proves 
how very superior was Cornaro's excellent and well- 
beloved wife. The old patrician, refuting decidedly 
the accusation of being the friend of lords in other 
countries, graphically describes the modest and 
peaceful life of his home. 

" As for being the friend of lords, it was perfectly 
true that he had formed friendships amongst them 
during the many years he had been brought into 
contact with them, but only in the interest and for 
the honour of Yenice, and not for any private 
advantage to himself ; for had he sought the favour 
of the great from selfish motives, he would certainly 
have amassed more wealth, and though he looked 
well-dressed, it was thanks to his wife's industry 
for she had altered and relined his clothes, and made 
them look better than they really were ! '' 

These simple words reveal Catharine's goodness, 
and her serene and gentle temper. 

Amongst the usual promises given by the Doge, 
Cornaro had to swear that if any member of his 
family were found in the Palace armed after the 
third bell had rung, he should be punished like any 
other citizen. 


In the agreement, which Andrew Cornaro (1368) 
had to take his oath, to observe, it w;as found neces- 
sary to repeat that the Dogaressa and her family 
were not to accept any presents, and that if they 
did receive any, they must return them within a 
twelvemonth. The Doge, the Dogaressa, and their 
children could have no lands in Trivigiano, Padua, 
Eerrara, or in any other part of the world outside the 
Duchy of Venice. Thus woman had no part in 
public affairs, and remained in obscurity, as is usual 
in countries and at a time when man puts forth his 
finest energies. Happy were the cities where 
woman was valued for her silence and retiring 
disposition ; those were mighty times when women 
watched over the cradle of their infants, and were 
the comforters, adopting the motto : 

" Che pria li padri, e le madri trastulla." 

" But within the homes at Venice woman reisfned 
as queen, and the Venetians made for her wise laws, 
at a time when, in spite of some poetical imaginings 
of the Christian legend, of romances and Courts of 
Love, the idea prevailed everywhere of woman's 
moral and legal inferiority. The canonical law, for 
instance, not only prohibited women becoming 
security for others, but also forbade their acting 
as arbitrators, bringing an action, and lastly giving 
evidence in a court of law. But the oldest Venetian 
documents give us many examples of the privilege 
granted to women of contracting bonds towards the 


State and towards private individuals. "We find 
women making sales, purchases, presents, and even 
co-operating, without the consent of their husbands, 
in public loans (1187), making wills, exercising the 
functions of testamentary executrices, of trustees, 
&c. Venetian laws, beginning by those collected 
and reformed under the Dogeship of Jacopo Tiepolo 
(1242), aimed at protecting, with certain precau- 
tions, the position and interests of women, never 
neglected in their natural rights — a certain proof 
that civilization had taken firm root in the Venetian 
Republic, even when in other countries it was only 
beginning to revive. Many arrangements with 
respect to securities, to the repayments, or the 
restoration of dowries, also those respecting the 
bride's pin-money, reveal the opinions of the legisla- 
tors, that a woman's interest, when widowed, must 
be cared for, and that obligations bound the hus- 
band, the father-in-law, or other relations if they 
had received and shared a fine dowry to make resti- 
tution, after the appraisers had valued it, in favour 
of the woman. Then, by another law, the husband 
was obliged to give an account of the increase of 
the dowry during his marriage, and he had to give 
a written guarantee, rendered valid by the signa- 
tures of two examiners, appointed for the purpose. 
There is neither time nor space in this book to 
enumerate the manifold decrees intended to secure 
the rights and property of women, for whose guar- 
dianship there were not only written laws, but also 


they were strictly carried out with the concurrence 
of proper magistrates, and even of the Doge him- 
self. The laws in fact preceded, and were in a 
great measure the basis of, those written in the pre- 
sent century. There is no doubt that some of the 
precautions adopted respecting the natural rights of 
women clash now with ours, but we need only turn 
our thoughts to the temper of those times, or better 
still to the just causes which suggested such ar- 
rangements, to enable us to understand the necessity 
for such severity. Here, for instance, is an example. 
When a man died intestate his freehold estates 
belonged to his sons, whilst his personal property 
was divided into equal portions between his sons 
and their sisters. According to a law of the Grand 
Council (JSTovember 23rd, 1352), in a dispute con- 
cerning an inheritance of a man and a woman of the 
same rank, and there being no collateral ancestors 
or descendants, the heir-male in that case succeeded 
to the freehold estates of the defunct, and was bound 
to divide the personal property with the female. 
But if the woman stood in closer relationship to the 
defunct than the man, then the property was divided 
equally between them. By such laws it would 
appear at first sight that the woman was deprived 
of her natural rights, but we must remember that 
at that period, and even nearly as far as the 16th 
century, landed property was scarce in the patrician 
and burgher families, whereas personal property — 
money, merchandise, circulating capital, and credit 



— was great. The legal decrees concerning the 
division of property were greatly altered during the 
last three centuries of the Kepublic. Not to dwell 
too much at length upon this subject, we will 
merely mention that when there was mutual con- 
sent between married people to devote themselves 
to a life of chastity, the judges, when assured of the 
fact, gave the woman power to claim her property 
and to dispose of it as she pleased. It is also 
worthy of note that they allowed the widow 
the right of enjoying her husband's property for 
a year and a day after his death, and the right also 
of remaining in the house of her late husband until 
her dowry was paid. If any man left his wife 
absolute mistress in his house, the law was bound 
to arrange that, besides the right of habitation, she 
had enough for her subsistence in proportion to the 
property left. If the man died intestate, and his 
wife at the end of a year and a day resolved to re- 
main unmarried, she had the right to stay in her 
husband's house, unless it had to be disposed of to 
dower her daughters. If she lived with her sons, 
she had a right to food and raiment until they reached 
their majority. A woman separated from her hus- 
band because of adultery lost the right to claim her 
property, but regained it if she returned to him. 
If food and raiment were denied a woman when not 
living with her husband, she had a right to com- 
plain to the Grand Council, against whose judg- 
ment there was no appeal. In 1420 dowries were 


limited to 1,600 ducats for the nobility, and 2,000 
for a plebeian wife married to a nobleman. By a 
decree of 1551 they were all fixed at 5,000 ducats. 
The laws were not strictly enforced on that point. 
If a wealthy woman took the veil the family were 
obliged to ensure the nunnery a yearly annuity of 
60 ducats. At that time the Republic inflicted very 
severe penalties, viz., imprisonment, hard labour, 
banishment, or pecuniary fines, according to the 
position of the delinquent, for deceiving a woman 
by a false marriage, or after having seduced aban- 
doning her. But it is worth noticing amongst the 
laws which regulated the position, rights, and obli- 
gation of woman, one which fixed, for males as well 
as females, twelve as the age for emancipation from 
the rules of the union, changed into fourteen for the 
males, later, under the Dogate of Andrew Dandolo. 
Only three centuries later they decreed that boys 
should come of age at sixteen, and girls at fourteen. 
We, judging according to the prejudices of our own 
time, should not consider it wise to allow boys and 
girls to manage their own affairs at the early age of 
twelve. What reason and circumstances could have 
induced so judicious and far-seeing a Government 
to set its subjects free at such an early age ? Two 
causes seem to us worthy of consideration. We 
believe, in the first place, that in the early ages the 
ties of family and kindred were so strong that, 
whether people were free or not to dispose of their 
property, they continued to leave the management 


of their affairs to the elders of the house, or to the 
nearest relatives. But there is another argument 
which to our notion explains better the reason of 
such laws. Nobles and people in the early cen- 
turies, and even to the end of the 15th century, 
were occupied in war, or business, or maritime com- 
merce. The riches acquired by trade in the capital 
were not then changed into landed estates by the 
purchase, more for show than use, of possessions on 
the neighbouring terra firma, but were circulated 
continually and cautiously in foreign trade. Money, 
therefore, then constituted almost the entire here- 
ditary estate of families, and the Government clearly 
perceiving how private and public interest were 
joined together, liberated by its laws from too pro- 
tracted a guardianship the funds necessary for 
business, managed with sagacious prudence by the 
Venetians. When in the 15th century new ideas 
and discoveries, fresh views and aspirations, spread 
through the whole of Italy, in Venice not only did 
the legal position of the women change, but also 
their lives and their dress. The awakening of 
platonic philosophy contributed not a little to the 
better appreciation of female worth. The mind 
turned once more to joyful expectations and gentle 
thoughts ; Semitic mysticism revived when brought 
into contact with Hellenic myths, and the legends 
of the middle-ages were engrafted on Pagan tradi- 
tions. Woman issued forth from her home, the 
dawn of a new day for human intellect irradiating 


her brow, and she mixed in the gay throng without 
losing her love of her domestic duties. She did 
not then influence political affairs, but she had 
much to do with art, for the artists no longer 
studied the Heaven of Byzantine saints, but began 
to admire one more spacious and beautiful in 
women's looks. Woman, who amidst universal re- 
joicing appeared in the Fiazza decked in bright gold 
and sparkling jewels, represented in her person the 
great artistic revival in Venice and the pomp of the 
wealthy Eepublic. 


Aet and Woman in the 15th and 16th Centuries. 

Heinrich v. MiJGLiN, a German poet, who lived 
about fclie middle of the 14th century, wrote that 
the good city of Yenice was universally admired. 
" Venedig ist ein gute stat, die hort man lobin ! " 

And at the end of that century and the beginning 
of the next, Yenice reached the culminating point of 
her prosperity, nor was there ever a greater or 
more fortunate State, being both rich and famous. 
Her vessels, trading in all parts of the known world, 
brought back treasures to the Republic, the city con- 
taining above 190,000 inhabitants, and a thousand 
patricians at least had incomes from two to five 
hundred thousand lire per annum. The Republic, 
mistress of the seas, turned her thoughts to con- 
quests on dry land, and the money acquired in 
commerce was purified in the crucible of the fine 
arts. No other city could compare with Yenice, 
called by Petrarch " The triie haven of the human 


race, the sole home of liberty, of justice, of peace, 
and better fortified and rendered more secure by 
the prudent wisdom of her sons than by the sea 
which surrounded her ! " Peter Gasola from Milan 
declared, in his " Journey to Jerusalem" that it was 
impossible to describe adequately the beauty, magni- 
ficence, and wealth of the city of Yenice ; and the 
monk Felix Faberof Ulm, after having visited the prin- 
cipal citiesof Christendom, asserted that he never saw 
any town more wonderful than Yenice — Nihil mira' 
bilius, nihil curiosius. Sabellicus gave a still more 
flattering description. The pointed towers and 
cupolas of the churches stand out against the clear 
blue sky, and the palaces shining with precious 
marbles are reflected in the waters of the grand 
canal. The people crowd to transact business at 
San Giacomo di Bialto, and under the porticoes sit 
the bankers and goldsmiths, whilst Eastern stuffs 
are displayed in the shops, and merchandise accumu- 
lates in the warehouses ; a crowd of Orientals, in 
picturesque costume, mix with the long-robed 
senators, the pompous patricians, and the business 
men in the Piazza di San Marco, which looks most 
beautiful. The nobles were no longer contented to 
live in the moderate way suitable to a citizen, florid 
maturity succeeded to unpolished youth, and the 
mental powers developed in public life began to 
manifest themselves in the arts, which are sure to 
weaken courage and fortitude, and never flourish at 
an epoch when private and military virtues most 


distinguish a nation. The grandest days of 
Milanese liberty were when the arts were in a state 
of decadence, which in the fifteenth century were 
again cultivated by the inhabitants as a consolation 
for their lost independence. By transporting the 
remains of monuments, columns, and statues from 
conquered countries with which to embellish their 
native city, the artistic genius of the Yenetians 
became influenced by the traditions of the East and 
West, still preserving, however, its original cha- 
racter. The Eastern sun expanded the flowers of 
Venetian art, which scattered their pollen to create 
other flowers and other perfumes. To the Byzantine 
succeeded the light Arabian architecture, which, 
owing to pecular historical conditions and the 
nature of the place, took an original impress, and 
expressed the temper of the times when the ideal 
and the practical were united in a marvellous 
manner. The former is revealed in art, the latter 
rules in all important State affairs. There is rigour 
in the laws, severity in the institutions, and at the 
same time the artist's imaginings full of love arise 
in the light of the Venetian sky. Great works are 
not found amongst nations who see the defined 
outlines of reality, nor amongst those who possess 
only vague, poetical, generous, and theoretical 
doubts, but only amongst those people who under- 
stand how to unite the ideal and the real, the im- 
pulses of the heart with the judgment of the mind. 


The quickening principle in art is woman ; and slie, 
in Venice, was in harmony with all that surrounded 
her — with the joyous life, the fantastic architecture, 
the warm tones of the atmosphere, and the deep 
shadows on the water. Every phase of female life 
is represented in the works of the sculptors and 
artists. Venetian painting does not appear as in other 
countries in the illuminations of themissals. Wedonot 
find in the initials of the breviaries domestic scenes 
painted in miniature with pious ingenuity ; within the 
monastery walls, the pure profiles of women do not 
smile through the interlacings of angular gothio 
letters in golden books, nor through the blue flowers, 
scattered over the mystical hymns of praise, as if to 
reconcile the eternal discord between Art and 
Christian aspirations. In Venice, books of prayers 
for the use of private persons, especially of the 
Doges, enclosed in handsome bindings and illumi- 
nated by celebrated artists, are rarely to be found. 
Masterpieces of miniature-painting were never 
executed in Venice, as in other European states, to 
please the fanciful caprices of princes. Even 
miniature was used in the Lagoons to increase the 
magnificence of the State, and illuminations em- 
bellished the collection of laws and statutes {marie" 
gole) of the schools of art. The history of Venetian 
Art can be traced in the mosaics of the Basilica de 
San Marco. The earliest mosaics are of the 12th 
and 13th centuries, but after that time the artists 


were influenced bj the conventional type of Byzan- 
tine orthodoxy.* The light of Art does not illumine 
tliose saints with their stiff forms, and yet a cer- 
tain sentiment appears in the large languid eyes 
of some of the Virgins. It is evident in some of 
the pictures that thought is absorbed by faith, and 
that artistic feeling has passed into ecstasy — that 
all the faculties of the mind are directed to- 
wards the contemplation of God. Were those 
artists truly inspired by mysticism ? Are the ideas 
of the time really expressed in those mosaics ? Not 
entirely ! In the middle ages and especially in 
Venice, there was a strange contrast between Life 
and Art. That extraordinary self-abasement which 
many see in the middle ages did not weaken the 
minds of the men who conquered Constantinople and 
fought in the war of Chioggia, and composed civil, 
criminal, and nautical statutes. The feeling of 
vague mysticism reigned in the family, inspired the 
women, but was not strongly reflected in public life, 
it did not leave the precincts of the Church, or the 
home, to dominate in councils or in large assemblies- 
And yet in Italy no Art was originally more 
mystical and symbolical than that of Venice. In 
Tuscany, the country of him who considered Para- 
dise a vast desert of theological light, where each 
spirit is lost in the mystical configurations of wheels, 

* The Byzantine artists had fixed rules determined by a special 
code, deciding the subjects to be treated and the rules to be used in 
depicting them. Panselino, a monk on Mount Athos, in the 11th 
century, was the author of the first code of the kind. 


eagles, crosses, and roses, were born Ghiotto and 
Nicolo Pisano, who studied and represented the 
reality; in Venice, the most realistic State in the 
Peninsula, we meet with anonymous mosaic workers 
in the Cathedral of St. Mark. In the glorious 
times of the Republic all was refulgent as in 
Dante's Paradise; the naves were full of gold, 
of ultramarine, of stars, of flowers. But amidst 
all this splendour, the Madonnas are prim, with 
immense heads, and extraordinarily long fingers ; 
the angels and saints wear an expression of anguish 
on their faces, and Art was indeed, as the Synod of 
A.rras wished it to be, the pure representation of a 
religious idea. Allegory was united to visions, and 
this Art, agitated by painful dreams, did not realize 
the Art of a people rich in health and energy, and 
delighted to live happily in all their family relations, 
besides being proud of their country. 

A corpse-like rigidity appears even when the 
mosaic retraced some scene of daily life. In the 
porch of the Cathedral are represented in a great 
measure events from the Old Testament : the birth 
of Cain and Abel, the death of Abel, Noah's Ark, 
Noah inebriated, the building of the Tower of 
Babel, &c., &c. The artist, with noteworthy daring, 
has taken for his model the garments, costumes, and 
ornaments of his own time, but the faces are 
deformed, the figures rigid, they have no move- 
ment, no life, and are grouped according to the 
liturgy. Byzantine influence and ignorance, suc« 


cumbing before the difficulties of design, give to 
those works an impress of rug ged simplicity which 
has a certain charm, an air of infantine ignorance 
which may be taken for holy and religious inspira- 
tion. Genius is indurated by Byzantine stiffness, 
and in the fourteenth century, when Giotto, Avanzi, 
and Altichieri covered the walls of many churches in 
Padua and Verona with splendid frescoes, Vene- 
tian Art played the child with Maestro Paolo, and his 
sons, Luke and John, with Semitocolo, and with 
Lorenzo Yeneto. But whoever looks at the Pala 
d'oro, painted by Paul Veronese and his sons, the 
large altar-piece of Stefano, rector of Saint Agnes, 
and that of Lorenzo Veneto, will find the faces rough 
and imperfect, but the expression good. Certainly 
they were then far removed from the time when Art 
was to be renewed by life-like representations; 
but from the pale faces of the women shine forth 
immortal souls, and the gentle feelings that woman 
inspires appear not only in painting, but also in 
public life ; and the form of the Almighty, which 
stands out with so severe an aspect on the golden 
back-grounds of the mosaicists, gives place to the 
gentle figure of the Virgin, whom Guariento, the 
Paduan, represents in the Hall of the Grand Council 
at the Ducal Palace as Queen of Heaven and Earth. 
An Art, which could not exactly be called national, 
saw light in the Island of Murano ; it freed itself 
from the Byzantine influence to seek inspiration in 
the somewhat cold realism of the German and 


Flemisli Schools. Andrea di Murano, and his sons 
John and Anthony, and the Yivarini family, studied 
eagerly the works sent to Yenice by John of 
Bruges (Jan van Eyck), Hemmlinck, Gerard of 
Ghent, Lyvius of Antwerp, Ouwater, Gerard of Haar- 
lem, &c., &c. Giovanni of Germany, together 
with Antonio da Murano, produced in 1440 the great 
altar-piece, representing the Madonna on a throne 
with four doctors of divinity. Anthony and Bar- 
tholomew Yivarini painted in conjunction with the 
same John. A grave and solemn serenity appears 
in the thin face of the Yirgin, painted by John of 
Germany and Antony Murano. Freed from the 
Byzantine robe, she caresses with her long slender 
hands the lean limbs of the Holy Child. In the 
Church of St. Zacharias, the Saints by John and 
Anthony Murano incline their heads with soft 
melancholy amidst points and tracery-work on a 
gold ground under a golden nimbus, and the placid 
expression of the Yirgin begins to be embellished 
by an air of maternity. But the lines of those 
faces are still too formal, and on the lips appears the 
sad smile of Northern nations. At this period of 
innovation, daring attempts and timid graces alter- 
nated with each other. The sun had not yet risen 
in the heaven of Art, but it gilded the extreme 
edges of the horizon. The works of Squarcione 
and Mantegna, students of the true and the antique, 
urged Yenetian artists to more independence of 
outline. They still followed the melancholy and 


chaste style of Northern genius, which they allied, 
however, to the graces of the Umbrian school repre- 
sented in the Lagoons by Gentile de Fabriano, 
whose name, according to Michael Angelo, corres- 
ponded to his pure, delicate, truly pleasing (gentili) 
works. The mind expands into a varied life, and 
the fetes in the Piazza, the splendid edifices, the 
beautiful fair women, the elegant fashions, are 
depicted by Carpaccio and Gentile Bellini as in a 
splendid photograph. In the picture by Gentile 
Bellini, " The Miracle of the Cross,'* woman 
descends from the throne of the Queen of Heaven, 
and presents herself to us in the surroundings of 
daily life. There is to the left of the spectator a 
row of noble ladies, sumptuously attired, kneeling 
with their hands folded together. The faces of 
those ladies are as familiar to us as they could be to 
their contemporaries. Their names are unknown to 
history, but the smooth brows, the mild bright eyes, 
the smiling mouths, the round pink cheeks, awaken 
in the mind gay thoughts. Such pictures would ill 
suit great power of intellect, but indicate the quiet 
happiness of female life. The type of woman 
represented under a new aspect by Yittorio Car- 
paccio and John Belliai is more fitted to arrest our 
attention. Who better than those two artists knew 
how to delineate the Virgin of Jesse, and to com- 
bine the charm of terrestrial beauty with religious 
rapture ? Who ever better understood how to com- 
bine in the lines of the female face purity and soft- 


ness, and to disguise the worship of sensual beauty 
under a semblance of Christianity ? , Art henceforth 
is no longer a timid and subjective sentiment, 
but becomes powerful and free. Kot only has the 
theological imagery of the Byzantines disappeared, 
but also the pale and attenuated presentment of 
the Virgin. The timorous visions of infancy 
have disappeared, and Art seeks in future her great- 
ness in the true and the classical. Giambellino and 
Carpaccio understood how to give an expression of 
loving sweetness and melancholy resignation to the 
face unsurpassed even by Cima, who was so great in 
portraying men's heads, especially those of old men, 
which stand out in his pictures on the green back- 
grounds of Conegliano's Hills. The virgins of 
Bellini and Carpaccio represent to the life the three 
sweet names of mother, daughter, and wife. These 
are the types of female beauty, and on their fore- 
heads shines a radiance of ideality ; they are in- 
spired by chaste and spiritual joys, yet we perceive 
that the artists drew those faces from nature. 
There is nothing sensual in their works, and no 
overdrawn sentimentality ; the face of the Virgin 
does not express infinite sorrow, but gentle kindness, 
and the painter beholds in the face he has limned his 
ideal woman, and writes with modest feelings on his 
frame : " Janua certi poli, due mentem, dirige vitam, 
quce yeragam comissa tuce sint omnia curce^ Those ar- 
tists had the chaste feelings of early times, vivified 
by reality. Christian affection was never depicted 


with more seraphic gentleness than in " The Meet- 
ing of St. Ursula with her Betrothed," by Car- 
paccio ; and truth was never delineated with greater 
simplicity and purer grace than in " The Dream of 
St. Ursula," by the same artist. Less vivid but not 
less attractive is this union of beauty of form with 
the feelings of the soul, of desire with prayer, which 
we find in other Venetian artists, such as Yincenzo 
Catena, in his Santa Gristma, very well done, and 
depicted with as much gusto as any of the most 
beautiful works of the ancient masters — in Mon« 
tagna of Vicenza, and in Pellegrino of St. Daniele, 
whose picture of *' A Virgin surrounded by Saints " 
is to be found in the Church of Santa Maria dei 
Battuti, But we were particularly charmed by a 
picture of Giacomo Previtali in the Church of the 
Madonna del Meschio in Ceneda. It represents a 
room furnished with the simplicity and rich elegance 
of the 15th century ; the window is open, and in 
the atmosphere there is a feeling of spring; the 
Virgin, gentle, merciful, and pious, is kneeling before 
the angel, who is pronouncing the prophetic words. 
When contemplating the works due to the Vene- 
tian school of that period, which begins with the- 
Muranos, and ends with the birth of Giorgione, we 
are inclined to repeat the words of a modern critic : 
^' Au milieu du tapage de V ecole venitienne cette calme 
simplicite nous touche et nous attendritJ' But material 
feelings are no longer restrained by religious awe. 
-At the beginning of the 16th century, mundane 


beauty appears in all its splendour ; the ideal of tlie 
Mother of God is changed into reality,; and Venetian 
Art, intended to attract the eye rather than the 
intellect, reflects the ostentatious pomp of a new- 
phase of society, where the former virtuous style of 
life is corrupted, and decent modesty extinct. Gior- 
gione, full of a certain innate power, broke through 
the trammels which had hitherto confined his Art ; 
he preferred the figures of women with large, 
rounded hips, with full and rosy bosoms, and let his 
genius rove at will, adding to solid knowledge 
freedom of fancy and caprice, in order to attract and 
please. He knew how to give a distinct character- 
istic to his women's fascinating forms, and he also 
preserved a calm imagination amidst indecency. He 
delineated female figures with a thousand charms, 
and over them was diffused a sort of golden shade ; 
the amber-coloured flesh stands out from the land- 
scape which serves as a background, and is painted 
with pleasing simplicity. The slopes are covered 
with vineyards, with green pastures, and disappear 
behind a veil of light vapours ; there is nothing arid 
in the soil, nothing sad in the sky, and yet in those 
hills that are outlined on the azure heavens, and in 
that plain which blends with the horizon, there is a 
vague and indefinite sadness which contrasts oddly 
with the nude limbs of the women trembling with 
delight. Material feeling is joined to a love of 
nature, and we can understand how deeply this 
handsome and powerful man, who took such plea- 



sure in matters of love, was moved by the calm peace 

of the fields. 

In a few years the inspiration of the artist had 

completely changed. "What a difference between 

Gentile Bellini — who wrote beneath his pictures : 

" Gentilis BelUnus amore incensus crucis 1496, Gentilis 

Bellinus pio sanctissimce crucis effectu lubens fecit 

1600 — and Georgio Barbarelli, who, whilst painting 

the Virgin, found himself disturbed by profane 

desires, and, turning his thoughts to his mistress, 

wrote on the back of the holy picture : 

* Cara Cecilia, 
Vieni t'affretta 
II tuo t'aspetta 
Giorgio ! 

Thus the female type loses little by little its re- 
finement and elegance. In the old paintings woman 
is depicted with a modestly covered bosom, the hair 
is brown, the face of an oblong oval, the eyes 
almond-shaped, the mouth small, and the lips thin 
but wide ; the dimples of the nostrils are on the 
edge of the upper lips. Georgione's women are rosy 
and plump, with heads of tawny hair, blue eyes, 
thick red lips, ample bosoms, and large hips. But 
whoever studies Georgione's Madonna in the church 
at Castelfranco must be convinced that the artist 
loved not only with all the strength of his senses, 
but also with all the strength of his mind. When 

* By some it was doubted whether the verses written behind 
the picture, and effaced 1831 by some barbarous restorer, were 
really in Georgione's writing. 


contemplating the plastic grace, the material beauty 
of the Venuses delicately painted by Titian, the 
mind is not moved. Nor is it affected, although 
the eyes gaze in amazement at the assumption of 
the Virgin Mary, for she is inspired by no heavenly 
thought, she is vulgarly redolent of health as in the 
Madonna dei Pesaro, who looks a beautiful, rosy 
country girl. Nor is it to be supposed that the 
men of the 16th century, who were so profoundly 
sceptical, and affected a contempt for the cold dead 
worhs of the dull artists of the preceding century, 
really believed that the pictures of the Saviour and 
the Yirgin painted in their time inspired men with 
religious devotion. Perhaps thought and emotion 
would have cramped these artists, who understood 
so admirably how to render the lines and graces of 
the female figure, the softness of the bosom, the 
curve of the shoulders and of the hips. The warm 
sensations of the flesh are evidenced with wonderful 
reality, and with a superabundance of healthy joy- 
ousness. And yet on the brows of those women so 
cleverly represented by the artists of the 16th 
century, there appears now and then an expression 
of quiet melancholy, but it is very fleeting. St. 
Barbara of Palmer the elder, although her beauty 
is sensual, has a noble and good expression, and in 
her eyes there is a dreamy brightness. In the 
Riceo Epulone of Bonifacio, a courtezan listens 
attentively to a companion playing the lute, and the 
jexpression of the beautiful sinner is overshadowed 


by a deep sadness, like a hidden regret. Perhaps 
the music awakens in her heart the innocent 
memories of her childhood. But it is only a 
transitory sorrow, a passing lament. 

Athwart the gay Venetian society appears the 
attractive person of Irene da Spilimbergo, a pupil 
of Titian's whom Tasso and the poets of the 16th 
century rivalled each other in extolling, and also 
Maria Robusti, Tintoretto's daughter, an expert in 
music and painting, who was carried off by death at 
the age of thirty from her loving father and a 
promising artistic career. The world displays its 
many attractions, and Paul Veronese, the chronicler 
of luxurious pomp, glorifies colour and light, and 
knows how to perpetuate on canvas the clamorous 
mirth of feasts and banquets. He does not under- 
stand passion or sentiment ; all his creations are 
beings exuberant with youth and joy, and with him 
begins the reign of the courtezan. Beneath this 
magician's brush, the rosy flesh of the beautiful 
daughter of Agenor, dressed in the sumptuous 
costume of the Venetian courtezan, quivers with 
voluptuousness ; and sensuality triumphs in the 
picture which represents the Queen of the Adriatic, 
crowned with glory, celebrated by fame, surrounded 
by Virtue, Ceres, Juno; her admirers are nude 
women. Art cares for nothing but pageantry, the 
glory of female beauty shines forth beside God's 
throne, and in " The Marriage of St. Katherine " 
the union of the human and the Divine seems to 


be hidden, for it is a marriage in which all ideality 
disappears, to make room for the intoxication of 
the senses. Between two immense columns, 
amidst red drapery, amidst the Hosannas of 
angels poised in mid-air, amidst the chants of 
other angels who have an open book with gold 
clasps before them, and who play the lute 
amidst joyous men and women, the infant Christ, 
seated in His mother s lap, puts the ring on St. 
Katherine's finger. The head of the Saint is in 
perfect profile, her golden locks flow over her 
shoulders, and round her neck the creamy lustre of 
the pearl necklace rivals the whiteness of the skin. 
The shoulders are covered by a golden cloth lined 
with scarlet, and the full bosom is outlined beneath 
a blue flowered brocade, falling in large folds. The 
sleeves, full at the shoulders, terminate with a trim- 
ming, and are tight at the wrist, throwing up the 
beautiful white hand. 

Indeed, at that time the artists seemed to be little 
better than pagans, depicting Saints and Madonnas, 
and the fair daughters of the Doges smile out of the 
altar-pieces when courtezans do not there display 
their lewdness. Lastly, Tintoretto, with his powerful 
and tragic imaginings of tumultuous ecstasy, his 
stern and melancholy spirit, is attracted by the 
Yenetian beauties with their tawny heads of hair 
which stand out from the warm tones of the back- 
grounds. Tintoretto, who created the Miracolo di 
San Marco, in which Michael Angelo's imagination 


seems united to tlie pictorial wisdom of Eembrandt, 
could not find any expression in the face of Eve 
with the strong limbs. Thus some of his Ma- 
donnas resemble beautiful wantons; but on the 
other hand there is a refined attractiveness in the 
"Martyrdom of St. Agnes." A sensuality that neither 
depraves nor intoxicates is found in another picture, 
"Ariadne and Bacchus," where the style of the 
ancients, before dying out, appeared, for the last 
time, in all its freshness and grace. 

The female type in Venetian sculpture, though 
less formal than in painting, was very stiff. Yainly 
do we seek in the works of the Venetian sculptors 
for the strength and beauty evidenced by Nicholas 
Pisano and Donatello ; they are, however, not so 
ignorant and clumsy as the man who drew from the 
marble the Madonna and angels standing on the 
tomb of Marino Morosini (a.d., 1253), in the porch 
of St. Mark. The Virgin sculptured in 1340 by one 
Arduino, a taiapietra in the Church of Santa Maria 
del Carmino, is stiff and lifeless, but on the face 
there is an expression of gentle melancholy. Beneath 
the scanty folds of a long garment one does not see 
the body of a Madonna who stands amidst the ele- 
gant traceries and light ornaments of a pointed arch 
on the Bridge of Paradise, but the attitude of the 
Mother of God is simple and natural. A more gentle 
expression and a matronly self-possession are evident 
in the Virgin and Child which embellish the door of 
the Scuola della Ganta, and were sculptured in 


1345. Of the same epoch, according to Zanotto, is 
the alto-relievo on one side of the Church of St. 
Thomas, where, with a simplicity not devoid of 
sentiment, is represented the Queen of Heaven, who 
opens her arms and receives beneath her ample 
cloak some devout friars of the Scuola delta Garita^ 
kneeling with their hands joined and pressed to- 
gether. Woman does not yet inspire the artists, 
but one feels that they begin to free themselves from 
Byzantine symbolism, which marks the decadence 
of man and the decadence of Art, until, a little 
before the half of the 14th century, a great artist 
sculptured some admirable female figures on the 
capitals of the Ducal Palace, and Jacob and Peter 
Paul delle Masegne, at the end of the 14th century, 
following the style of the Florentine school, portray 
female beauty with a certain boldness, not unaccom- 
panied, however, with religious awe. They idealize 
the senses, bring into unison the mysteries of faith 
and human passions, and know how to impart to 
their female types a grave and melancholy beauty. 
There appears in the Cathedral of St. Mark, over the 
architrave, between the presbytery and the middle 
nave, behind St. Mark and the Twelve Apostles, 
the statue of a Madonna, in a graceful attitude, 
having on her face, though not handsome, a life-like 
expression. The timidity of early Art, as well as 
mysticism and realism strove with each other in the 
mind of Delle Masegne. But the balance seems 
adjusted in other very beautiful statues repre- 


senting the Virgin and some saints which adorn 
the chapels of . St. Peter and St. Clement, in 
the same Cathedral. And the womanly tender- 
ness of the mother, joined to the divine ideal 
of the Virgin, is seen in the Madonna placed upon 
an external pillar of the larger door of the 
Church dei Frari, and in the bas-relief sculptured 
over another door of the same church, two 
charming works, most probably from the chisel 
of Delle Masegne ; the draping of the garment is 
done with care, the features of the face well 
modelled, and the hair soft. At all events the 
artist does not yet venture to expose the female 
form for the sake of studying its graceful curves, 
and when he attempts to sculpture the nude figure 
he is glaringly at fault, as in the Eve placed at the 
comer of the Ducal Palace. But, on the other hand, 
he paints from the model the expression of the face, 
and the various aspects of life, and even in the 
dwelling of the rulers of the State the figures of 
Venetian ladies in their various costumes, and the 
different phases of their domestic life are considered 
worthy to be reproduced in marble. On the divi- 
sions of the capital of a column in the Ducal Palace 
we see the man falling in love, marrying, making 
presents to his wife ; he is in bed, he becomes a 
father, kisses his son, already an adult, and finally 
bewails his death. When to the study of the true 
are united examples taken from antiquity, a new in- 
tellectual education arises, and Italian genius receives 


and modifies the traditions of Greece and Rome. The 
result of this assimilation is manifested in Venetian 
sculpture by Antonio Rizzo's statues of Adam and 
Eve. Compare the Eve placed at the corner of the 
Ducal Palace with Rizzo's, observe the stiff and 
angular form of the first, and then let your eye rest 
upon the beautiful woman rising opposite the two 
colossi of Sansovino. What a wealth of pure out- 
lines and harmonious curves, and what a study of 
aaature in that bosom so chastely replete, in those 
arms, those thighs which seem full of life ! The 
love of the true was so strong in the artist that he 
itook care to compensate for the smallness of the 
shoulders by a greater amplitude of the hips, such 
as is found in nature. Woman displays all her 
charms in the presence of Art and Love. Therefore, 
in the enjoyment of beauty there is, so to say, a 
feeling of modesty ; the female form, nobly inter- 
preted, loses all grossness, and as Art is not vulgarly 
sensual, so its inspirer, woman, ought never to be 
so. But the period of powerful conceptions and 
masterly productions passed away, and was suc- 
ceeded by an epoch of pompous elegance and 
decadence. The works of the artists show us, as in 
a ray of light, the life of woman. Rizzo, Bregni, 
and Lombardo were followed by the sculptors of 
Christian Yenuses, who, in attitudes devoid of 
dignity and expression, show how the sublime and 
modest woman's reign, as the inspirer of artistic 
thought, is drawing to a close. 


The Venetian Woman and the Literature of the 
15th and 16th Centuries. 

Whilst painting, like a queen clad in gold brocade, 
had vast and glorious dominion in tlie Lagoons, 
poetry crept along in a miserably mean style. 
The Venetians, delighting in all that appealed' 
pleasantly to their outward senses, found no charm 
in vague and dreamy reveries ; they could not com- 
prehend that fresh ideality which flourished with 
spring-like vigour at the end of the middle ages. 
The fancies of love and melancholy were depicted 
with little enthusiasm in Venetian poetry, nor did 
the poets born on the banks of the Adriatic depict 
with any depth of feeling the sorrows of the heart. 
There existed amongst the Venetians an exquisite 
artistic feeling, but it found expression on the 
artist's canvas, beneath the sculptor's chisel, in the 
surprising whims of the architect, rather than in 
the verses of the poet. Venetian genius is plastic 


and powerful and appeals to tlie senses, and grasps 
but imperfectly the subtle and fluctuating figures of 
poetry. In Venice literary activity made its 
appearance later than in other countries; lyric 
and epic poetry were not to be found in the 
History of the Republic. During the whole of the 
14th century the Venetians only wrote works on 
theology, jurisprudence, medicine, and even in the 
15th century the belles-lettres are, considering the 
importance of the city, but poorly represented, until 
the time of Ermolao Barbaro and Aldo Mannzio. 
Whilst in the Peninsula woman acquired daily more 
influence, and knew how to unite the pleasures of art 
and society, we seek in vain amongst Venetian 
women for a trace of that culture, the principal 
ornament of other Italian ladies, whether witty and 
spirited as described in the pages of Decameron, or 
learned and scientific, conversing with men on 
philosophy, medicine, and politics in Anthony 
Alberti's villa at Florence, or attending the meet- 
ings of the theologian Louis Marsili in the Convent 
of the Holy Ghost. Historians have left us no 
proofs that the Venetian ladies of high rank attained 
any proficiency in learning, or that they had any 
love for the arts, and amongst them we find no 
rivals to Alphonsina Orsini, the wife of Peter de 
Medici, to Elizabeth Gonzaga, Marchioness of 
Urbino, Veronica Gambara, Vittoria Colonna, 
Isabella d'Este Gonzaga, or to so many other 
Italian gentlewomen, celebrated for their refined 


taste in art, and for tbeir munificence as patronesses. 
Venice could only produce in the 15th century 
Cassandra Fedele, famous for her erudition, who, as 
a young girl, improvised Latin verses, and sang 
them to her lute. 

" decus Italiae virgo I " 

So Poliziano wrote of her. But the praise and 
admiration lavished on her prove that she was a 
wonder in Venetian society. In fact, despite the 
ostentation of other women, her compatriots, her 
person was never decked with gold or jewels, and 
she never wore any but white garments. Her 
beauty, refined, nervous, and delicate, and truly 
worthy of the brush of Giambellino, who painted 
her portrait, was different to the usual Venetian 
type, which was so robust and blooming. The 
Venetian gentlewoman of the 14th century is 
Catherine Cornaro, so good and beautiful, who 
easily forgot the splendours of the ducal throne 
amidst the joyous f6tes of Venice and the pleasant 
meetings on the Asolo Hills, where, accompanied by 
her maids of honour, Berenice, Lisa, and Sabina, 
she listened to Master Peter Bembo, who distilled 
subtle reasonings on love, " not that love the son 
of Venus, but created in our own minds by 
luxury and idleness, its vile parents." 

And the three men and three women, actors in 
these disputes, ended in an ecstasy of divine love. 
The future Cardinal of Holy Church, inebriated by 


sentimental sensuality, indulges in contemplating 
and praising that part of the '* whitest chest " 
visible to the eyes, and judging the rest, which was 
covered, " thanks to a decent garment, which, how- 
ever, does not conceal entirely from the lookers-on 
the gentle swellings which appear beneath the soft 
dress intended to hide them.*' This seems to be 
something else besides the ecstasy of divine love. 

At the end of the 15th century, and during the 
whole of the 16th, the Venetian woman is the theme 
of panegyrics and academical dissertations, in open 
contradiction to that calm sense of feminine volup- 
tuousness inspired by the water, the climate, 
and the customs of the country. Here woman had 
indeed the attractions of her sex, and sought, as 
Baldassare Castiglione desired, to avoid all resem- 
blance to men, in every word, movement, and 
gesture. But this fascination, so peculiarly Vene- 
tian, was neither felt nor understood by those 
authors who wrote about and discussed with so 
much pedantry the worth of Venetian women. 
Louis Dardani, for instance, with long casuistic 
disquisitions, wished to demonstrate that men are 
much more wicked " a Vimontro di ciascuna donnaJ' 

Barbaro advises women to avoid, of their own 
free will, those viands and other things "which 
tend to excite culpable desires." Louis Domenichi, 
a native of Piacenza, who lived for some time in 
Venice, where his books were much in vogue, 
declares in some tedious dialogues that woman is 


gifted with three religious virtues and with four prin- 
cipal ones, and that in physical and moral qualifica- 
tions she far surpasses men. And then, mentioning 
some of the illustrious women of his day, Domenichi 
gives the highest praise to the Venetian ladies. 
He writes : " That mother of Peace and Justice 
(Venice) is adorned by Madame Cecilia Cornaro, 
wife of M. Marco Antonio Cornaro the magnificent, 
who holds the same place amongst beautiful women 
as the sun amongst the minor stars ; Mad. Helena 
Barozzi Zantani, who for loveliness equals her 
Grecian namesake, and for virtue the Roman 
Lucretia; Mad. Lucretia, wife of the great M. 
Gio. Battista Capello, who with her faithful and 
modest beauty has charming and angelic manners ; 
Mad. Paola Donata, who ought to be called goddess, 
on account of her admirable grace and wonderful 
loveliness ; Mad. Paolina Pisani, who is such that 
it would be easier to conceal the dawn of day than 
to hide the nobility, faultlessness, and dignity of her 
appearance." And as if such laudation did not 
suffice, the women themselves rose up in defence of 
their sex, and tried to prove their nobility of 
character superior to that of the men, who cannot 
be compared to them (the women) for beauty and 

And the heart is chilled in these dull disquisi- 
tions, as well as by insipid poetry. When rhetoric 
and antithesis deluged Italy, Venice also, for 
fashion's sake, began to imitate Petrarch, and 


many rhymsters and poetesses sought to snatcli a 
grace beyond the rules of art. Amongst the writers 
of verses are mentioned Laura Yeneziana, Olympia 
Malipiero, Foscarina Yeniero, Francesca Baffo, 
Angela Sirena, Giannetta Tron, Yeronica Franco, 
Yincenza Armano, Moderata Fonte, Laura Beatrice 
Cappello. Seldom does one find in their verses 
sincere and deep feeling expressed with simplicity. 
Read, for instance, the dreadful manifestations 
which follow the death of a noble woman : 

Turbossi il ciel, la terra, gli elementi, 
Tremaro i monti e di lor corso i fimni 
Vidi arrestar, le Tigri Hircane, i dumi 
Et i figli lasciar mesti e dolenti 
L'aria s'accese di sospir cocenti 
Di voci horrende e mille humidi lumi 
Farsi in memoria di quei bei costumi 
Et spars ero dolor, grida, lamenti. 

Moderata Fonte, whose literary occupations did 
not prevent her being a good wife and mother, not 
satisfied with having described the merits of women 
in prose, sings in rhyme : 

S'ornano il ciel le stelle, 

Oman le donne il mondo 

Con quanto e in lui di bello e di giocondo. 

There is a certain candour in the verses of 
Yeronica Franco, who allows herself to be trans- 
ported into a wild dance of corruption, but here and 
there she stops, as if thoughtful, and feels her heart 
beat violently. She does not really understand the 


meaning of vice, and she wishes to show her 
adversary — 

Quanto le meretrici hanno di buono, 
Quanto di grazioso e di gentile. 

She sees herself beautiful and courted, and she 
enjoys it. 

Ma la mia gratia ancor, la mia bellezza. 
Quello che'n se medesma ella si sia 
Da molti spirti nobili s' apprezza. 

She loves deeply, and writes to her lover, when 
he is far away — 

Perduto de la vita ogni vigore 
Pallida e lagrimosa ne I'aspetto .... 
E'l viver seuza voi m' e crudel inorte 
Ei piaceri mi son tormenti e guai .... 

But the following lines are spoilt by an affected 
and florid style : — 

Talhor fermossi a mezzo corso intento 
II sole, e '1 cielo, e s' e la terra ancora 
Piegata al mio si flebile concento ; 
Da le loro speliinche uscite fuora 
Piansero fiu le tigri de' 1 mio pianto .... 
E Progue e Filomena il tristo canto 
Accompagnaron de le mie parole. . . . 

The most genuine of all the Venetian poets of the 
15th century was Gaspara Stampa, born in Padua, 
but Venetian by choice, who poured out in verse all 
the anguish of her unfortunate love for Collaltino di 
CoUalto. But we cannot find out from their verses 
what kind of lives these women led. Possibly femi- 


nine imaginings passing through a poetic medium 
become coloured and represented with more definite 
outlines. Here is a long list of poets : Pietro 
Bembo, Andrea and Bernardo Navagero, Alvise 
Priuli, Nicolo Delfino, Nicolo and Jacopo Tiepolo, 
Agostine Beaziano, Nicolo Leonico Tomeo, Antonio 
Brocardo, Paolo Canale, Daniele Barbaro, Yincenzo 
and Girolamo Querini, Tomaso and Orsatto Gius- 
tinian, Antonio Isidoro Mezzabarba, Nicolo Liburnio, 
Giovanni Brevio, Girolamo Molino, Bernardo and 
Jacopo Zane, Sebastiano Erizzo, Domenico Michele, 
Jacopo and Tomaso Mocenigo, Luigi Contarini, Lo- 
dovico Dolce, Giovanni Yendramino, Trifone Gabri- 
ello, Bernardo Oappello, Domenico, Maffeo and 
Luigi Yeniero, Celio Magno, &c. 

Amongst so many assiduous seekers after thoughts 
and antitheses there is not one real poet. 

Fancies and disputes smother all sentiment ; the 
passions are chilled or disguised by epigrammatic 
refinement, and the women to whom so many pseans 
are dedicated have neither colour nor expression. 
By selecting here and there a few verses, we have 
endeavoured to give an idea of the style and form of 
such poetry. 

Pietro Bembo, " the great leader of the poets," 
sings thus the praises of his mistress : — 

Criu d'oro crespo, e d'ambra tersa e pura 
Ch'a I'aura su la neve ondeggia e vole ; 
Occhi soavi e piu chiari che'l sole, 
Da far giorno seren la notte oscura ; 


Riso che acquets ogni aspra pena e dura : 
Rubini e perle, oud' escono parole 
Si dolci, ch' altro ben Talma non vuole ; 
Man d' avorio, che i cor distringe e fura ; 
Cantar, che sembra d'armoula divina, 
Senno mature a la piu verde etade ; 
Leggiadria non veduta unqua fra noi, &c. 

He wishes to say that he is in love, and he 
describes love, which with its arrow opens his 
breast, and engraves on his heart the lovely face and 
the beautiful eyes of his lady-love. Such ideas do 
not come from the heart, but from a study of 
Petrarch and from mental cogitation. Albeit, such 
a flame of Platonic love burns only in rhyme. 
Master Peter, " with quick hot wings of desire," 
threw himself into the arms, not of an imaginary 
Laura, but into the white strong ones of Morosina, 
who gave him three fine children, Helen, Torquato, 
and Lucilla. Even men of practical good sense 
were not exempt from the fault of expressing false 
sentimentality, of seeking after the graceful and the 
meagre, like Andrea Navagero, Ambassador in 1525 
to Charles V., who wrote the following verses to 
the Madonna, invoking death, whilst he stood either 
in the delightful gardens of Murano or in Friuli, or 
on the shores of the Brenta, in the pleasant society 
of Aldo Manuzio, of Bembo, of Fracastoro, of Ra- 
nunsio : — 

S' io pensassi, Madonna, che mea morte 
Vi fussi sopr*ogni altra dolce e cara, 

Di questa vita amara 

Sarebber Tore assai fugaci e corte. 


Some faint trace of imagination and feeling, some 
flash of tenderness, a certain elegant power of 
imagery and versification, are to be found in Celio 
Magno. But in his friend Orsatto Giustinian we 
only discover affected and pretentious sentimen- 
tality. Giustinian, whilst staying at one of his 
estates in the territory of Asolo, dresses himself as 
Melibseus, and blows the shepherd's pipe : — 

Vid'io dove il muson vago discende 

Tra ricche sponde a bei colli vicine 

Pastorelle divine, &c., &c. 

Alvice Priuli, with his mental subtleties, does not 
feel his hearb beat when he arranges his dull song- 
book on the model of Petrarch's, and expresses his 
affections in the common-place language of love : — 

Quando in voi mi rivolgo, e guardo fiso 
Le chiome bionde e quelle guame amate, 
Trovo in raandar qua guitanta beltate, 
Aver fatto ogni forza il paradiso. 

That same Bernardo Cappello, who, according to 
Ariosto, " was more than ordinarily favoured by 
the Muses," wrote madrigals : — 

ben nato terreno, 
Cui '1 pie' candido acquista 
D' erbe e di fior belta diversa e rara ; 
Ella a te' 1 ciel sereno, &c., &c. 

Gabriele Fiamena, Bishop of Chioggia, writes 

sonnets on mortal sins, but Trifone Gabriello, the 

Venetian Socrates, sings softly — 

Avventurosa piaggia, ove i begli occhi 
Sogliono raddoppiar sovente il giorno ; 
Aprico colle di fioretti adorno 
Dal leggiadretto pie' piii volte tocchi. 


The perturbed and burning senses, unconsciouslj 

ask for something more, and another poet, Giorgio 

Gradenigo, thinking of the violets that his mistress 

keeps carefully pressed to her bosom, expresses 

the wish — 

Che r umore 
Che in vita vi mantiene 

Col celeste calore 
Si dissolva e distilli per le belle 
Membra leggiadre e snelle. 

Another Gradenigo, called Peter, inhales a mouth- 
ful of country air, but his pastorals betray the 
affectation and polish of city manners — 

La mia leggiadra e vaga pastorella, 
Cogliendo or questo, ora quell' altro fiore, 
Spogliava ai prati il lor piii ricco onore, 
Gioiosa e lieta a la stagion novella. 

The air is filled with light sparks around the 

beloved being, the flowers rise up in search of the 

prints of the beautiful feet. Thus Domenico Ye- 

niero imitates Petrarch — 

Verdeggiavano intorno i colli e i prati, 

Lucidissime i fiumi aveano I'onde, 

E spirando facea da tutti i lati 

Zefiro vago tremolar le fronde ; 

Cantavan gli angeletti a sentir grati, &c., &c. 

Maffeo and Luigi Veniero's verses have a certain 

resemblance with Domenick's ; they write on the 

same subjects with the same embellishments. Fans- 

tino Tasso, less observant, goes about seeking the 

woman who touched his heart : — 

Andai per molti solitari lidi 
Empiendo I'aria d' amorosi stridi 
Con un dolce languir tutto cortese. 

Marco Vasio sent round sonnets with tlie echo — 

E mentre ripensando ai cari sguardi 
Dico : ove sono i giorni miei graditi ? 
Iti, sento chi subito risponde, &c., &c. 

Benedict Guidi, with pretended simplicity, 

writes — 

Scherzava dentro a I'auree chiome Amore 

De r alma donna de la vita Mia ; 

E tanto era il piacer ch'ei ne sentie, &c. 

What a contrast between these cold compositions 
and that resplendent feminine beauty reproduced 
on the canvas of Paul Veronese and Titian ! Oh, 
pleasant wanderings on the Lagoons ! Oh, joyous 
meetings in the gardens of Murano ! How dull the 
gay life of Venice appears in this poetry ! 

Even to the accent of true passion expressed by 
Gaspara Stampa, the Count of Collalto, who per- 
fidiously broke her noble heart, replied, toying 
amidst the grass and flowers — 

Candide rose e leggiadretti fiori, 

Che fate ne'l vel sen dolce soggiorno ; 

Quando sara per me quel chiaro giorno 

Che I'alma m'esca de'l sue bando fuori ? 

Alteri, vaghi e pargoletti Amori, 

Ch' a lei scherzando gite d' ogn'intorno, &c., &c. 

But Art falls still lower, and the adulation becomes 
ignoble in certain poetical absurdities, such as in 
ISTicolo Franco's " Temple of Love " (Venice, 1526), 
the Triomphi composti sojpra li tarocchi in laude de le 
famose gentildonne di Vinegia by Troilus Pomeran da 
Gittadella (Venice, 1534), the stanzas in praise of the 
noble Venetian ladies by Giovambattista Dragoncino 
da Fano (Venice, 1547), the " Temple of Fame," by 


Girolamo Parabosco (Venice, 1548), &c. Here 
rhetoric, making its utmost efforts, proves how that 
literary decadence called afterwards secentismo 
(style of authors in the 17th century) was already 
in existence during the first half of the 16th century. 
We give as an instance the pieces of Dragoncino da 
Fano on the name of Modesta Veniero : 

Modesta '1 nome, e'l titolo Veniera 
Afferma '1 bello, e'l bon ch'in te si trova 
La Modestia e virtu, ch'l vitio impera, 
Quel Veniera in te Venere rinova, 
O sei dea de le bellezze altera, 
fai di Vener paragone e prova : 
Se Vener sei, sei di beltade honesta 
E non lasciva perch^ sei Modesta. 

Amidst such a cloud of incense, we cannot dis- 
tinguish the real profile of the woman ; the names 
only have come down to us of those beautiful 
patrician ladies, the subjects of so much, ugly 
poetry. The names are better than the verses; 
they recall, at least, ancient glories, and evoke 
phantoms surrounded by luxury, pomp, and 
festivities. The beautiful women, Jiore de'l secolo, 
who receive the highest poetical praise are : Paula 
and Maria Pisani, Elena Loredano, Elena Centauni, 
Elena Moro, Lugrezia and Maria Contarini, Elena 
Foscari, Maria and Laura Giustinian, Elisabetta 
and Elena Priuli, Marina da Mosto, Orsola and 
Modesta Veniero, Cecilia Morosini, Elisabetta Mali- 
piero, Maria and Bianca Marcello, Chiara Duodo, 
Savorgnana Garzoni, Elisabetta Molin, Franceschina 



Zorzi, Pellegrina and Fiorenza Cappello, Laura 
Badoer, Marina, Daria, Elisabetta and Loredano 
Mocenigo, Chiara Grussoni, Cecilia Cornaro, Pisana 
Gradenigo, Morosina Morosini, Maria Bragadin, 
Paulada Ponte, Adriana Pasqualigo, Cornelia Gri- 
mani, Elisabetta Vendramin, &c. And around 
these noble ladies burst forth false sentimentalities, 
strange metaphors, and impudent falsehoods. Sham 
sentiment reached such a pitch that a friar, Girolamo 
Malipiero, wishing to reform Petrarch's collection of 
sonnets because they were too profane, applied them 
to religious and spiritual subjects. And yet cor- 
ruption burst forth on all sides, and, together with 
the artificial literary culture, a cynicism in speaking 
of all that relates to manners and customs gained 
ground, as well as a coarseness of language used 
habitually even by good and affectionate men, not 
only in the presence of matrons, but also of young 
girls. Somebody, for instance, who was giving 
advice on the way to preserve beauty, said naively, 
'* What ought to be said of the bosoms or breasts? 
They must be small, round and firm, like two ripo 
apples ! " 

We can quite understand how under such cir- 
cumstances a woman of corrupt morals became the 
muse of the Arts. But the 15th century is 
especially distinguished from its predecessor by 
the establishment amongst courtezans of a kind of 
aristocracy, to become members of which, beauty, 
gentility, and, worse than all, culture competed. 
Gentlemen were no longer contented with prosti- 


tutes of low degree ; they must have courfcezans who 
had their biographers, poets, and novelists. " At 
Venice," wrote Bandello, '' there are many prosti- 
tutes to whom, as at Rome and elsewhere, they 
give the respectable appellation of courtezan." 

This type of woman is not to be found in the 
coarse writings of Lorenzo Yeniero, nor amongst 
Aretino's lady loves. The Venetian courtezan, 
amidst her greed of pleasure and of infamous gain, 
was sometimes capable, like Veronica Franca, of 
strong and noble passions, and she sometimes sur- 
rounded the artist who sought inspiration from 
her not only with sensual pleasures, but with 
higher enjoyments of the mind. Painting could 
manifest the wild joy of this voluptuousness that 
filled the veins of Venezia, that brilliant and wanton 
feast of the senses which poetry could not express. 
Petrarch's flowery expressions languished on the 
shores of the Lagoons, and in the barren paths of 
learned literature the native dialect flourished 
better. From the midst of the people was to arise 
a poetry offering a complete contrast to the 
Petrarchian ideal, an Art which by the power of 
freedom ridiculed sentimental poets. In opposi- 
tion to the many female figures devoid of outline 
or character it was necessary that some real living 
person should appear. Athwart the prettinesses of 
the madrigal, and the delicate artificiality of learned 
literature, pass, like a challenge or a mockery, 
poems in the native dialect, strange, subtle, and 
trivial, but containing a life-like imagery. 


Certain nonsensical and vulgar lifctle sonnets 
bring before our eyes that beautiful daughter of 
the people, dishevelled, untidy, in white slippers 
with blue stockings. In the " Song of the little 
servant maids," we see the little girls — 

Le se guarda nel specchietto 

Con e'l fuso e'l pettenetto. • 

The poet of the people prefers the poor woman to 
the aristocrat, and sees with disdain the adorn- 
ments, the finery, the womanish trinkets, often the 
•cause of ruin to families : 

De le done non te fidare 

De le veste ben pompose 

Ne voran meza dozina: 

Gia bo visto tal tegnose 

Che non na pan da cena 

Che quando la coda mena 

Ele pare Madona isota. 

Amidst all this clumsy derision, there now and 
then appears an accent of true passion. 
Pregoti vita de la vita mia 
Fin ch'io retornerb non ti scordare 
Cb'io t' ho donato il core, meschino me. 

The titles of these sonnets are sometimes very 
curious. Here are some of those most in vogue in 
the 16th century : Historia nova piacevole la quale 
tratta delle Malitie de le donne, Pronostico a la villata 
sopra le jputane. Canzone morale di santo Herculano, 
Le ridiculose canzon de Mistro Pizin da le calde 
aroste e de Mistro Bonetto che vende le lesse, cosa da 
far crepar da rider e morir da fame Giuoco de Primiera 
•e caccia d'Amore, &c. 

This satire was aimed at the amorous syncopes of 


erudite poets. Lastly, Maffeo Veniero, wrapt in 
ecstatic love, and bathing in the clear soft waters of 
the Sorga, bursts all at once into a joyous laugh ^ 
and writes the " Strazzosa,'^ wrongfully called by 
Gamba a parody on a sonnet of Petrarch's. Here is^ 
the first verse of this exquisite work, quite original 
from beginning to end : 

Amor vivemo tra la gata e i stizzi 

In t' una c^ a pe plan 

(E no vedo per6 che ti te agrizzi) 

Dove e la lume e' 1 pan 

Sta tuto in t'un, la roca, i drapi e' 1 viu 

La vechia e le fassine, 

I puti e le galline, 

E mezo al cavezzal soto el canim 

Dove taca a un anzin 

Gh' e, in muodo de trofeo, 

La fersora, mea scufia e la graela, 
La zuca de 1' aseo, 

E' 1 cesto e la sportela : 

E' 1 leto fato d' alega e de stopa 

Cussi avalio che i pnlesi se intopa. 

A popular poet, Alexander Caravia, relates in an 
easy and piquant style the love of Naspo Castellana 
for Gate Biriota. Thus he reproves his faithless 
mistress (Canto I.) : 

Ingrata seuza fe piena de ingani 
Credeva calche tempo ti me amassi. 
But I wasted my time (and,) 
Adesso fuor de' 1 porto ti me lassi 
Travagiao da fortuna e da tempesta 
E a la bonazza ti vardi la festa. 

A certain dignity and honesty are evident in the- 
burlesque verses of Caravia, disdainful of female- 


deceit, of dress and the vagaries of fashion. He 

likes the rosy cheeks indicating health, better than 

paint; and addressing the women of his city, who 

reddened their faces and whitened their bosoms 

(Canto II.), he exclaims indignantly : 

No ne impiastre i bei visi con beleto 
Ch' el ne nasta le came, e ne le stropia. 

Andrea Calmo is a strange man and a strange 
poet — a mixture of folly and sense. His laughter, 
if of no other use, procured him the joyful satis- 
faction of seeing all disguise stripped off the hypo- 
critical art of his day. He comes out for amuse- 
ment on the Lagoons, and using the idiom of that 
time he gives free scope to his fancy in satire, 
raillery, and buffoonery. Of all the Lauras sung by 
the Yenetian poets, the most life-like is the girl 
Calmo meets one day on the seashore. The air is 
fresh, perfumed with the salt of the sea, and Calmo 
invites the beautiful child into his boat. She accepts 
his invitation. 

La ride, mi la nardo, lei si senta 
Digando : Che ne par caro missier? 
Vegna la friene a chi no se contenta. 

And there in front of the sea the two happy beings 

This poetry in the Venetian dialect, a reaction 
from the vapouring ideality of Petrarch, is like a 
rugged mountain where are to be found no caves 
of soft stone upon which to inscribe false inscrip- 
tions and lying epitaphs. 


Luxury and the Life of Woman — The Dogaressa and 
THE Sumptuary Laws — Solemn Progress of the 

Female life in Yenice appeared surrounded by 
luxury, amidst wtiich the outlines of the Dogaressa's 
face are distinctly seen. Aristocracies, when they 
are losing strength and energy, are wont to organise 
feasts, intended to make the people forget their 
ancient institutions ; lulled by such seductions the 
nation falls asleep, oblivious of its former love of 
liberty and heedless of the tyranny of the great. 
There is a certain display of pomp due to a people 
for the hardships they have endured, and there is 
the luxury of thoughtless nations who waste the 
savings accumulated by former generations. Until 
the 16th century, the civic fetes in Yenice were a 
manifestation of republican majesty and power; 
after that time the power diminished, but not the 
pomp, and that revival of Paganism which smiles at 


US from tlie canvas, in the statues, and in literature, 
and refines whilst corrupting the morals, takes 
possession of the Venetian Grovernment, making it 
delight in a luxury entirely sensual. If the heads 
of a State set an example of extravagance and 
ostentation, the love of finery in their subjects, 
especially amongst the women, will soon pass all 
bounds, dissipating both public and private fortunes. 
The Government, whilst issuing decrees to urge 
them to celebrate the public fetes with great mag- 
nificence, is obliged to send out other decrees to 
moderate the excessive extravagance of private 
individuals, and afterwards fresh orders for feasts 
and amusements, followed by other repressive laws. 
Strange contradictions, when one thinks of the 
practical and severe wisdom of the Councils of 
State. But of all excesses, that of luxury is the 
most difficult not only to conquer, but to regulate. 
For instance, at the end of 1299, the Grand Council 
inaugurated that plan of making exceptions which 
deprives the law of all force and authority. It 
forbids the interchange of presents on the occasion 
of a wedding, except for relations of the bridal pair 
and for the priest of the district ; the bride, when 
going to fetch the bridegroom, as well as when re- 
turning home, can only be accompanied by eight 
women ; the bridegroom must only invite twenty 
men and twenty women to the wedding-dinner, and 
the bride the same. The bride, so says the decree, 
amongst other things, cannot have in her trousseau 


more than four dresses ; nobody but the bride 
must wear pearl trimmings, and she only on her 
wedding-dress, and only one girdle of pearls. No 
woman is allowed to have more than one string of 
gold or amber buttons worth more than ten soldi of 
grossi, nee drezeriam aliquam perlarum of greater 
value than a hundred soldi. They are not allowed 
to have more than two cloaks lined with ermine, 
and the women are not allowed to use more than 
one mantle lined with silk, except in case of mourn- 
incr, nor to have the train of the gown more than a 
cubit long. But the people at Court were not 
obliged to submit to these laws, as they wished to 
surround the Doge and Dogaressa with a magnifi- 
cence surpassing all the rest, and fitted to inspire 
admiration and respect. On the other hand, such 
exceptions diminished the effectiveness of the 
sumptuary laws, and artifices, stratagems, and feints 
were used to evade them. In fact, all the Acts 
passed in 1299 were, at the end of seven years, 
revoked by the Grand Council, by thirty-two 
members of the Quarantia and by five Councillors. 
After this epoch, new enactments were made, and 
also fresh exceptions. Other laws in 1334, 1340, 
and 1360 arranged the dresses and ornaments of the 
women, forbidding them to wear girdles and purses 
trimmed with pearls, silver waistbands worth more 
than ten ducats, trimmings of gold and silver, of 
pearls or margarites, &c. But for the honour of 
their position, the Doge, Dogaressa, their children, 


nephews, and their grandchildren were permitted to 
use and wear quicquid voluerint donee hahitaverint in 
palaiio. In 1497, as the women took no notice of 
the decrees, but used pearls to the value even of 600 
ducats, the use of them was forbidden on the 
dresses except for the wife, daughters-in-law, and 
daughters of the Doge inhabiting the Ducal Palace. 
Again, a decree of 1562 says that all the women ten 
years after their jBrst marriage cannot wear pearls 
of any kind, the Dogaressa and her daughters ex- 
cepted. Other examples are to be found amongst 
the great number of decrees published by the Grand 
Council, the Senate, the Council of Ten, and finally 
by Furnishers of Feasts, an office instituted in 1514, 
to limit the immoderate extravagance and vanity 
which did great injury to the wealth of private indi- 
viduals. At the end of the 14th century, the 
women wore not only very costly dresses, but also 
little hoods with gold and pearl trimmings, silver 
crowns, caps and head-dresses of gold, and often 
varied the ornaments, besides caps adorned with 
jewels, fillets, turbans, crowns, hats and coiffures, 
&G, If we study the paintings of ancient times, 
and search the ancient documents, we shall find 
that the women stand forth amidst a thousand hues, 
and sheen, and wonders of gold and silver; they 
appear in the midst of a gay phantasmagoria of 
long silk dresses, of brocade, of tawny-coloured 
muslin embroidered with gold, of velvet embroidered 
with silver. The delicate flesh-tints are seen through 


the finest lace of Burano, and above the edge of the 
chemisette embroidered with gold, silver, and silk 
threads, the jewelled stomachers define the figure, 
and from the shoulders hang hoods and capes lined 
with valuable fur. 

The beautiful patrician ladies stood in the sun 
on Altane to bleach their hair; they turned from 
their mirrors with their faces and bosoms painted ; 
they walked on very high zoccoli (wooden shoes) 
gilt and jewelled ; they assisted at fetes, regattas, 
and tournaments, considered innocent pastimes ; 
and received kings and princes clad in white- 
watered silk adorned with jewels and pearls of 
great price. Marin Sanudo, 28 years old, at that 
ardent, voluptuous, and self-possessed age, describes 
his female fellow-citizens; and the words of the 
chronicler bring vividly before us those joyous and 
glorious times, and the beautiful and majestic 
beings with their white skins and tawny hair. 
" The women are really exquisitely lovely, they are 
surrounded by much pomp, are adorned with jewels 
and finery, and when any foreign lady visits Venice 
they proceed to meet her with above 130 women, 
adorned and clad in most valua^ble silks and coladena 
(so it is called), worth three hundred and even a 
thousand ducats ; and rings, balas rubies, sapphires, 
emeralds, and other most precious jewels. And 
there are some patrician ladies, not many, who are 
so poor that they have not 500 scudi worth of rings, 
without large pearls, which is incredible, but seeing 


is believing. When women find themselves as- 
sembled together, except the wife of the Doge, 
the daughters of the Doge, knights' wives and 
doctoresses, all will go by age." 

All the precautions and provisoes were of no 
avail, for the Government liked to squander the 
treasures accumulated by former generations, and 
as it is necessary that woman should take a part in 
the outward display of riches — for without her pomp 
would have no splendour — the Venetian ladies from 
time to time were roused from their indolent and 
quiet lives to join the gay throng. Their costumes 
were more noted for magnificence than elegance ; 
their high shoes, dresses of gold brocade with its 
stiff folds made them resemble lay figures. 

As long as they were children their education 
was most properly conducted, and they were so well 
guarded and watched in their paternal homes that 
very often their nearest relations scarcely saw them. 
When they went out, which was but rarely, they 
wore on their heads a rather wide white silk veil, 
called fazzuolo^ and with it they covered their faces 
and chests. As soon as they were married, they 
learned to dance, and performed in ballets, to the 
sound of various instruments, and many women 
trimmed and altered their dresses, generally made of 
satin, adorned with pearls, gold, and jewels. 

The dress of the Dogaressa surpassed all others 
in magnificence; she wore the Ducal mantle, and 
enjoyed for her pin-money the revenues of the 



taxes on fruit, and she was received at the palace 
with extraordinary pomp. By degrees, however, 
the State wished to restrict the gay demonstrations 
of the people on the occasion of the solemn entry 
of the Dogaressa, when they feted her with those 
exuberant rejoicings so well depicted by Canaletto. 
The coronation of the Dogaressa assumed the 
character of an official ceremony soon after the 
reforms of Piero Gradenigo. It was decided that 
as soon as the Doge had been elected all the 
Councillors, preceded by trumpets, should adjourn 
to the dwelling of the Dogaressa, to receive her 
oath, by which she promised to observe the FrO" 
missione in whatever concerned herself. They never 
seemed tired of repeating that neither for herself 
nor for her children should the Dogaressa accept 
any present, not even on the occasion of marriages 
or of any other solemnity. After taking the oath 
the Dogaressa presented to each of the Councillors 
a beautiful purse (bursa pulcherrima) worked in 
gold, and to the Chancellor a silk purse with silver 
mountings. The wife of Francesco Dandolo, 
elected Doge in 1329, after having pronouuced 
the oath, was then accompanied by the Councillors 
on the Bucentaur, and went afterwards to the 
Cathedral of St. Mark, where she offered on the 
altar ten lire of grossone. Having then proceeded 
to the Palace and taken her seat on her throne in 
the hall of the Signori di Notte, she dismissed the 
Councillors and retired with her ladies to her apart- 


ments. The Dogaressa gave a rich banquet to the 
Artiy who all took part in the feast. Pomp began 
to be used even at funerals. In early times the 
bodies of the Doges were interred without any 
great ceremony the day after their death. When 
Giovanni Delfino died (1361), for the first time the 
body, with the gold spurs, the sword, and the shield, 
lay in state in the Hall of the Signori di Notte, and 
the Princess, followed by a large retinue of ladies, 
went to the Church of St. Mark, where she spent an 
hour in prajer. The reign of Lorenzo Celsi, suc- 
cessor to Delfino, was also rendered famous by the 
solemn entrance of the Dogaressa into the Palace 
and by feasts, besides solemn receptions of kings and 

Luxury had not yet weakened the mental powers, 
and the fine qualities which rendered Yenice great 
in the middle ages shone forth for a time more 
brilliantly in the Palace of the Doges when those 
glorious days were drawing to a close, when 
ancient sternness quickly degenerated into absurd 
clownishness. Louis, son of the Doge Antonio 
(1382-1400), had formed an intrigue with a noble 
lady of the Boccasi family, and one day, either from 
jealousy or revenge, he fastened on her door a pair of 
horns. The author of this cowardly insult was 
soon discovered, and the enraged husband com- 
plained to the Doge, who ordered his son to be put 
in prison. Louis was attacked by a serious illness, 
and begged to be set at liberty for a short time, 


but the Doge remained inexorable, and the unfor- 
tunate youth died in captivity. Paternal severity 
remained deaf even to a mother's anguish. All 
agreed that patriotism and honour were to be con- 
sidered rather than family affection, and in these 
conflicts the mother's heart suffered terribly. The 
Dogaressa, Agnes Yeniero, survived her husband 
for some years, and was buried with her daughter 
in the Church of Santi Giovanni e Paolo, in a tomb 
raised about 1411. The arch placed over the sarco- 
phagus of the two ladies, the columns embellished 
with peculiar capitals, the statues of the Saints 
placed upon the two side pinnacles, the bas-relief of 
the Virgin, the entire monument, seems a memento 
of a pure and placid art. There is in it the sim- 
plicity of a stern age, the world of art rises in the 
clear light of faith, and no profane sentiment dis- 
turbs the solemn peace of the church, nor makes its 
walls resound with the tumult of the life without. 

At the end of the 14th and the beginning of the 
next century institutions changed, fashions altered, 
the mind turned to other ideals and prepared for 
new things. 

In 1400 Michiel Steno became Doge, and Venice 
f^ted with great pomp, not only the election of the 
Doge, but the beginning of a new era. Then the 
country was deified, and the triumph of beautiful 
women began, of sumptuous dresses, jewels, cloth of 
gold ; then jousts, tournaments, processions of the 
Arti, followed each other as in a fantastic dream ; 


there originated that celebrated Hosiers' Company, 
which gave a cachet of supreme elegance to the 
Venetian festivals. 

An ancient document describes with great minute- 
ness the costumes and solemn pomp, with which in 
the 15th century the Dogaressa was conducted 
from her private abode to the Ducal Palace. 

The Government commanded all the Societies of 
the Arti to prepare for the day on which the 
Dogaressa was to make her solemn entry. Each 
Company of traders decorated one portion of the 
Ducal Palace with tapestry and carpets, and pre- 
pared pinnaces with flags and banners to follow the 
Bucentaur, upon which the Dogaressa was to sail 
with all her relations. On the day appointed the 
Doge, with a few Councillors, awaited his wife in 
his apartments. Four Councillors, with the Doge's 
relations, preceded by servants with banners and 
silver trumpets, went to the house of the Dogaressa, 
where they were received by her relations. They 
then proceeded to a saloon, where the wife of His 
Highness expected them, and, after having acknow- 
ledged their bows and good wishes, she presented to 
the Councillors and relations of the Doge, beautiful 
purses of gold tissue, and then descended to the 
landing-place, preceded by six trumpeters and the 
Prince's equerries. 

The youngest ladies amongst the nobility followed 
in a long procession, and behind them came the 
aristocratic matrons, with the relations of His High- 


ness and of tbe Dogaressa. These last took on that 
day precedence even of the Doge's connections. The 
Princess, clad in a very long robe, the train of 
which was carried by several young ladies, and 
surrounded by ladies of rank, had beside her the 
wife of the High Chancellor, and was followed by 
the councillors, senators, and noblemen walking two 
and two, and distinguishable by the diversity of 
their ornaments and the colour of their costumes. 
The stately senators placed the Dogaressa in the 
seat prepared for her on the Bucentaur, which, 
quitting the shore, took its way towards the Ducal 
Palace, followed by many other boats and skiffs, 
where were the trades, with their golden banners. 
Having arrived at St. Mark, the princely retinue 
landed in the order above mentioned, and marched 
round the Piazza, whilst the bells rang out joyously. 
At the principal gate of the cathedral the Dogaressa 
was received by the Church dignitaries in their 
richest vestments, with silver tapers, holy water, 
the cross, incense, and with all the ceremonial 
reserved for Princes. The Vicar of the Cathedral 
recited the following verses in Latin, besides the 
Oremus : — 

Salvam fac ancillam tuam ducissam 

Nostram, Domine : 
Deus mens sperantem in te 
Mitte ei Domine auxiliiim de Sancto : 
Et de Syon tuere earn 
Nihil proficiat inimicus in ea : 
Et filius iniquitatis non apponat nocere ei. 


Fiat pax in virtute tua : 
Et abundantia in turribus tuis. 
Domine exaudi orationem meam : 
Et clamor mens ad te veniat, 
Dominus vobiscum : 
Et cum spiritu tuo. 

Oremus : 
Quesumus omnipotens Deus ut banc famulam tuam Ducissam 
nostram ubique sapientia tua doceat atque confortet, et earn Eccle- 
sia tua fidelem semper agnoscat. Per Cbristum Dorainum nostrum. 

Deus, mens providentia in sua dispositione non fallitur, ineffa- 
bilem elementiam tua suplices ex oramus, ut sicut Ester regniam 
israelitice plebis causa salutis ad regis Assueri thalamum regnique 
sui consortium transire fecisti, ita banc famulam tuam Ducissam 
nostram, Cliristiane plebis salutis gratia ad gratiam tuam transire 
facias, ut tibi super omnia jugiter placere desideret, et te inspi- 
rante que tibi placita sunt toto corde perficiat, et dextera tuo 
potentie illam semper hie et ubique circundet. Per Cbristum 
Dominuni nostrum. Amen. 

Then they sang the Te Beum. The long proces- 
sion then proceeded into the chancel, and the 
Dogaressa, taking the Doge's seat, distributed 
money to the canons. The High Chancellor then 
presented the statute-book — 

" Here, your Highness, is your Capitulary. "Will 
you please to observe all contained therein, and 
swear to follow it ? " 

To which she replied — 

" Read it to me first." 

Whilst it was read, with other ceremonies, the 
Artif having left their boats, betook themselves in 
good order to the various apartments assigned 


them in the Palace, where they seated themselves 
beside tables furnished with sweets, choice wines in 
flasks and silver cups, awaiting the Princess' visit. 
When the religious ceremony was concluded the 
Dogaressa left the church by the door leading to 
the Palace, ascended the stairs with her suite, 
passed before the various guilds, the members of 
which, cap in hand, and with obsequious bows, 
invited her Highness to sit down and breakfast 
with them. She replied to them all — 

" Many thanks, but I do not feel inclined to take 

Proceeding from room to room, she entered the 
Hall del Pioveghi, where, seated in His Highness' 
place, she listened to those words which sounded 
like a funeral knell amidst festivities, displaying 
princely ostentation and popular simplicity. 

" Your Highness, as you have come here full of 
life to take possession of the Palace, so I must tell 
that, when you are dead, they will remove your 
brain, your eyes, your intestines, and you will be 
transported here to remain three days before you 
are buried ! " 

And she replied — 

" What you say will content us, when it may 
please God Almighty ! " 

Then, quitting her seat, the Dogaressa moved 
towards the Hall of the Grand Council, where, in 
the same way, she occupied the Prince's seat, when 
it was permitted to everybody to touch her hand. 


At the conclusion of these ceremonies she proceeded 
to the Ducal apartments, where she found the Doge 
expecting her, in the company of two Councillors. 
The feasts, to which noble ladies and burghers' 
wives and daughters were invited, continued for 
three days, and there were shooting and tourna- 
ments in the Piazza and regattas on the Grand 

Her Highness was attired in an under- vest of gold 
cloth, laced at the throat, with duchess sleeves, 
puffed at the shoulders, a gold girdle, a mantle of 
gold brocade or of silk similar to the Doge's. The 
head-gear consisted of a crimson velvet cap of a 
French shape, but a little raised like the Ducal cap, 
a circle of gold round her forehead, and a veil fas- 
tened to the cap hung down behind, almost touch- 
ing the crimson velvet slippers. 


The Dogaressa in the Ioth Century — Marina Steno — 
Marina Foscari — Giovanna Malipiero — Dea Tron 
— The Wipe op Nicolo Marcello — Taddea 
Mocenigo — Lucia Barbarigo. 

Let us try to bring before our minds amidst the 
refulgence of the celebrated f^fces of the Quattro- 
cento the figures of some of the Dogaressas. 

Marina Grallina, wife of the Doge Michele Steno, 
was conducted honorevole e jpomposamente, and with 
the usual ceremonies, to the Ducal Palace (1400). 
Nevertheless the vigilant eyes of the Grovernment 
were not to be dazzled by the scintillation of gold, 
the brilliancy of colours, and they took care to re- 
mind the Doge that neither he, nor his sons, nor 
nephews can contract alliances with foreigners, ex- 
cept with the permission of the Councillors, the 
three heads of the Council of Forty, and the greater 
number of the Grand Council. The Government 
took note of the minutest details concerning the 
Doge and his family, and in the Grand Council, on 


April 21sfc, 1409, they held a deliberation to repair 
at the hanchi uhi stat domina ducis^a, all fracidi et 
devastati quod est magna deformitate Palacii. 

Seven years after her coronation Marina Gallina, 
wife of Steno, dictated her will in the Ducal Palace. 
Amongst other legacies she left 50 golden ducats to 
poor prisoners, and seven ducats to a monk of the 
Monastery of St. Stephen, who came to preach at 
the Palace, as an acknowledgement of the comfort 
he had given her mind. To Nicholas Fasolo, Rector 
of Santa Maria Zobenigo, she left a velvet dress to 
make a chasuble and three hundred ducats for a 
chalice, crosses, surplices, and other adornments 
needed by a priest. All this Nicholas Fasolo was 
entitled to enjoy during his lifetime, and after hia 
death it was to be consigned to the Monastery of 
the Monks of St. Dominic. Thus the dress worn by 
the Dogaressa at the fetes in the Palace and on the 
Piazza was transformed into a Church vestment, 
proving that luxury was the homage offered to 
power and virtue, and at the same time a manifes- 
tation of religious worship. Another will of the 
Dogaressa Steno, still extant in the legal archives, 
is mentioned by Cicogna. It bears date August 
25th, 1420. The Doge Michele, to whom a very 
fine mausoleum, now destroyed, was erected in the 
Church of Santa Marina, had then been dead seven 
years. Steno's e^gj stood on a marble urn sur- 
rounded by a large arch, richly carved, in the centre 
of which was a portrait in mosaic of the Dogaressa 


in her widow's weeds. Over the urn hung the 
keys of Padua, taken from the Carraresi in 1405. 
The widow Marina retired to the convent attached 
to the Church of St. Andrea, where she spent the 
remainder of her days. In her second will she 
gives directions for her body to be buried in nun's 
garments at the Convent of St. Andrea, to which 
she leaves a legacy of 25 ducats. On the sagra oze 
nel camjpo jper mezo la giesia was the tomb, now de- 
stroyed, on which were engraven the words : — 

Hie jacet corpus Serenissimje D. Marinas uxoris Q. Sereniss. 
et eccelentiss. principis D. D. Michaelis Stenus inclyti ducis 
Venetiarum, quse obiit die 4 Mensis Maij m.c.c.o.c.xxii. 
Anima eujus requiescat in paee. 

In 1423 Francesco Foscari succeeded Thomas 
Mocenigo, and the wife of the new Doge entered 
the Palace in triumph. But amidst all the noisy 
splendour, the Dogaressa Foscari arouses in the 
mind reverent pity, caused by ill-starred virtue. 
On his deathbed Thomas Mocenigo advised the 
patricians who stood around him not to choose as 
his successor Francesco Foscari, for he was an am- 
bitious man, who would grasp all and lose all. Nor 
was Foscari' s election unopposed, for some wished 
Mocenigo's counsels to be followed, some believed 
that the youthful impetuosity of the new Doge over- 
ruled his better judgment, and others again urged 
that he had many children, that he had married 
again and might have more, for every year his wife 
presented him with a son. His first consort was 


Maria di Andrea Priuli dal Banco, and his second 
Marina ISTani, and he had four sons and five 
daughters. Of the sons there remained only 
Jacopo, and he brought much misfortune on him- 
self and his family. The sad story of the Foscari 
is well-known, and History, that ruthless destroyer 
of all poetical legends, has clearly proved the 
fallacy of the traditions and romances collected 
around the name of the Doge Francis and his son 
James. It is now known that Jacopo's misfortunes 
were caused not by the severity of the laws, but by 
his own levity, that the private enmities of certain 
patricians were mere fables, as well as the sugges- 
tion that the Doge died of a broken heart on hearing 
the bells of St. Mark announce the election of his 
successor, and it is also false that Loredano had in- 
scribed in his account books the expenses of his 
father and uncle's obsequies, and kept them until 
Francesco Foscari paid them. The great and un- 
fortunate Doge ended his life amidst sad memories 
and disappointments caused not so much by the 
wickedness of men as by the fatal obligations of 
the State. The Dogaressa appears grave and 
dignified amidst the adventures and sorrows of the 
Foscari family. Though the private lives of 
Venetian ladies of high rank seldom arrest our 
attention, and we are not allowed to search the 
secrets of their hearts, though they stand, as it 
were, aloof from us, Nani Foscari appears as a 
living figure in the pages of the old chronicler?, 


who describe with what fortitude she bore her sad 
fate. Marina Foscari suffered much during the 
years her husband reigned, and an expression of 
resigned sadness was ever present on her counten- 
ance even when listening to the flatteries of her 
courtiers. Other festivities followed her solemn 
entry. The daughter of the Marquis of Montferrat, 
who was to marry John II. de Lusignan, arrived in 
Venice, and the patricians received her joyfully 
with feasts and banquets. The greatest patrician 
lady of the Republic, together with 124 noble 
ladies, some dressed in gold cloth, brocade, silk, 
and others with mantles and dark dresses, went on 
the Bucentaur to meet the royal lady. The State 
ordered that the Dogaressa should do the honours 
of the Palace, but the poor lady, trying to avoid 
the joyous and boisterous crowd, fainted twice from 
fatigue and was conveyed to the Palace in a boat. 

On February 10th, 1441, Jacopo, the Doge's son, 
a clever and distinguished-looking youth, married 
the daughter of Leonardo Contarini, of San Barnaba. 
A detailed description of the cavalcades, jousts, 
tournaments, banquets, and balls, which took place 
in honour of these nuptials, brings vividly before us 
the men and women of that time. The Dogaressa 
cordially welcomed her young and beautiful daughter- 
in-law to the Palace ; she became the pride of the 
family, and an ornament at the fetes of the Eepublic. 
At the end of three years James Foscari was accused 
of having, contrary to law, received gifts from lords 


and commons, from governors, and lastly from Duke 
Philip of Milan ; this breach of faith was styled by a 
contemporary chronicler both disgraceful and in- 
famous. From that moment began a long and 
dreadful series of misfortunes, which the Dogaressa, 
never forgetting her high position, bore without 
showing anger or spite, for she fully comprehended 
that in affairs of State, justice must be preferred to 
mercy. But in the retirement of her own apart- 
ments how often must she, when so terribly afflicted, 
have shed bitter tears ! Jacopo Foscari, who had 
retired to Trieste, was tried, and having been found 
guilty of wicked, abominable, and dishonourable 
conduct, was sent into exile to Nauplia. Before he 
departed, the Dogaressa begged the Doge to obtain 
permission for her to go to Trieste to bid her beloved 
son farewell, but the Council of Ten coldly replied, 
" Quod Domina Ducissa non vadat^ When later he 
was broken down by a serious illness, he obtained per- 
mission to take up his abode at Treviso. The Doge 
himself, rising in the Grand Council, " Oommemoro 
lefatiche sostenute in dogado per conservation de Stadoy 
et che mai se havea sparaguado, . , , et che mquesta 
sua vechiesa la concedessero per gratia de haver questo 
suo unico jilio ajpresso de lui; et tanto de laehrhne 
et singulti se prorompete, che nonpotefinir la sua renga 
et tolta licentia da gran conseijopartisse e andh a caxaJ" 
These words, written by the chronicler Giorgio Dol- 
fino, bring clearly before us the venerable face of the 
unfortunate old man, who, in 1447, spoke words so 


toucliiiig and grand in their simplicity, that no one 
can read them without shedding tears. The Doge 
arrived at extreme old age, deplored his inability to 
sacrifice for his country his worn-out body, and hi& 
mind enfeebled by so many great sorrows, the 
greatest of all being that of knowing his son to be 
wandering about in exile for three years. To make 
matters still worse, Jacopo, with his wife and child, 
having reached Mestre, they were all seized with a 
terrible fever, which attacked the servants, the serv- 
ing-women, and the nurse. The unhappy father at 
last begged that, in consideration of his great age, 
they would afford him the comfort of seeing his son 
released from banishment, so that his mind and body 
might be relieved from so much sorrow and anxiety. 
The Council of Ten, thinking that it was necessary 
that their Prince qui lihero et non occujpate animo cum 
tota mente serviat et intendat regimini rei jpuhlice^ and 
having come to the conclusion that cold reasons of 
State do not always exclude mercy, readily allowed 
Jacopo to return home, and he enjoyed for a short 
time the happiness of being once more with his 
family and in his native country. But in 1451, he 
was suspected of having caused the death of one of 
the Chiefs of the Council of Ten ; he was arrested, 
tortured, and confined in the Island of Crete. Who- 
ever has diligently studied the State archives may, 
with reason, doubt Jacopo Foscari's innocence. 

But, in spite of all she suffered, the unfortunate 
Dogaressa was always compelled to take part in the 


fetes arranged by the Republic, which were really an 
artifice of the Grovernment to occupy the minds of 
the people. In April, 1444, the Marchioness of 
Ferrara, daughter of the King of Arragon, was 
received with much pomp and ceremony. She was 
presented with a jewel worth 300 ducats, and the 
Dogaressa went to meet her with gifts and many 
boats, ganzaruoli^ and ships of war, and she was 
accompanied to her dwelling near St. Giovanni in 
great triumph and ringing of bells. On the 21st of 
April, the Marchioness and the Prince of Taranto, 
after having been to the Arsenal and to Sta. Maria 
Formosa, were joined by the Dogaressa and many 
other ladies of rank in the Mercerie, and accompanied 
to the bridge of Rialto. The crowd was so great 
that the barricades gave way, and more than a 
hundred persons fell into the water, out of which 
only thirty-seven were^ saved; this accident gave 
rise to much alarm and lamentation in Venice. 

On the 21st of May, 1452, the Emperor Frederick 
arrived in Venice ; on the 25th his wife Eleanor ot' 
Portugal joined him. The Government allowed the 
ladies, in spite of the laws, to wear cloth of gold, 
and the Dogaressa, with 200 patrician ladies in 
golden garments, and adorned with jewels, went in 
the Bucentaur, which had been especially em- 
bellished with gold stuffs, to meet the young 
Empress, then scarcely fifteen years of age. "The 
procession was so magnificent," writes Dolfino, 
"that I can scarcely describe it; it surpassed the 



Koman fetes." "With what secret and melancholy 
forebodings concerning human greatness must not 
the Dogaressa have received the young sovereign ! 
Two hundred and fifty ladies of the nobility were 
present at a feast given in honour of the Em- 
press, who was presented with a crimson coverlet 
adorned with pearls and precious stones, for the 
cradle of the little son that might be born in time to 
come, and a crown of gold worth 2,600 ducats. A 
few years later, during his banishment in Crete, 
Jacopo formed illegal friendships with the Turks. 
The Council of Ten having been informed of the 
circumstance, made him come to Venice, where he 
was unmercifully tortured and punished, and then 
sent back to Crete. Before leaving his country, 
Jacopo, in his prison at Torricella, was able to see 
and kiss his mother, his wife, and his children. The 
poor mother could scarcely recognise her Jacopo in 
the feeble invalid, lacerated by trenta tratti di corda 
hauti in piu zorni, with his beard prolixa et hrutta^ 
and with hollow eyes. She felt ready to faint at 
such a sight, but the poor lady knew how to check 
and control the tumultuous anguish of her agitated 
spirits. The father was also terribly affected when 
he saw his unfortunate son. We can give no descrip- 
tion more graphic than is written by Dolfino in the 
following words :— " The Doge, his father, went to 
see him with so much determination on his face and 
in his language, that one could scarcely believe he 
was going to visit his son. . . . The son said, 


* Father, I beseech you to obtain permission for me 
to return home ! ' to which the Doge replied, ' James, 
you must obey, and not expect anything else.' " And 
having taken leave of his father, Jacopo was trans- 
ported to Canea. The Doge remaining in the room 
after his son's departure threw himself on a couch 
swooning, and crying, " 0, the misery of it ! " But 
a short time after the news arrived from Candia 
that Jacopo Foscari was no more. 

The Doge was then 84 years of age, and his 
great age, as well as his infirmities and mental 
sufferings, prevented him from attending to the 
affairs of State. Cold State policy over-ruled com- 
passion, and the Council of Ten requested Foscari 
to relinquish his high position. On the 24th of 
October, 1457, the unfortunate old man, leaning on 
his wife, Marina, who bore herself with noble self- 
possession, quitted, with death at his heart, those 
rooms which recalled so many triumphs as well as 
troubles, and retired to his home at San Pantaleone. 
On the last day but one of the month of October 
Pasquale Malipiero was elected Doge, and two days 
later Francesco Foscari died. 

The State decided to give him a grand funeral at 
the public expense. But the widowed Dogaressa, 
who possessed her husband's lofty spirit, declined 
such honours, declaring them not only useless but 
an insult to her sorrow. She added that it was a 
vain and tardy compensation for the little respect 
they had shown the Doge during his life-time ; she 


herself would offer the last homage to the Doge, if 
even to do so she were forced to sell her dowry. 
Such words were very bold in those days, when the 
smallest offence offered to the State was sure to be 
punished severely. But, alas ! all the Dogaressa's 
display of rancour proved of no avail, for the 
Governors of the Republic carried the body away 
by force from the widow, believing that all the 
wrong done to Foscari would be effaced by solemn 

Nine times were the bells of St. Mark made to 
toll, and the patrician Justinian exclaimed in the 
name of the Republic, on the bier of Foscari : 
" Viduata tali primvpe civitas, orhata parente patria.*^ 
We must say that hypocrisy seems to be necessary 
in the Government of even the best States. The 
life of Pasquale Malipiero's wife (1457-1462) passed 
happily amidst honour and flattery. A few days 
before Malipiero's election, a decree of the Grand 
Council had ratified the custom which obliged the 
Dogaressa to put on the Ducal mantle and to be 
accompanied, digne ac honorifice, every time she 
left the Palace. On January 26th, 1457, Johanna 
Dandolo Malipiero was received in the Palace with 
great festivities, and invited the guilds to a grand 
banquet. In order to show every respect to the 
Dogaressa, it was arranged that at public fetes on 
the Piazza or in the Palace she and her ladies 
should have places on proper stands sumptuously 
decorated for the occasion, and the Council of Ten, 


by a decree of May 17th, 1458, threatened anybody 
who entered those stands aofainst the orders of the 
Signori di Notte with pecuniary fines and even incar- 
ceration. The eccentric tale- writer Palazzi, so often 
quoted, says that Johanna Malipiero was " a prin- 
cess of much spirit, and possessed a private fortune, 
and that she was much envied because the first 
book ever printed in Venice was dedicated to her." 
The name of every patrician lady praised by 
Palazzi corresponded, as was customary in the l7th 
century, to a playing card. The knave of spades 
goes with the panegyric of the Dogaressa Dandolo 
Malipiero, and at the top of the engraving, repre- 
senting a printing-office, is the following inscrip- 
tion : " The art of printing introduced into Venice 
by the Dogaressa Dandolo Malipiero." A certain 
writer of the 17th century did not reason, he 
invented wild tales, and truth was not only pro- 
scribed by art, but also by history. Hence, Palazzi's 
assertions have no historical value, especially when 
we remember that the first book printed in Venice 
by Giovanni Spira, in 1469, Epistole Familiari by 
Cicero, bears neither dedication much less any 
mention of the Dogaressa Malipiero. She probably 
patronized a style of industry more suited to a 
woman's taste, that of lace-making. Those marvels 
of art and industry, in which the needle follows the 
pencil, and the spindle wanders at will, amidst the 
most whimsical designs, received, according to 
Rossi, a very strong stimulus from the Dogaressa 


Malipiero. No documents make mention of tlie 
noble patronage, and yet Rossi, a confused but not 
untruthful compiler of his country's records, must 
have read a notice of it in some old manuscript, 
which has since been lost. Lazari, quoting E/Ossi's 
words, remarks that Johanna was a noble lady 
worthy of honourable mention, because she greatly 
encouraged lace-making in Venice, and caused it to 
become prosperous. It seems only natural that a 
woman should have been the first to promote the 
art of making these valuable and fanciful designs, 
which have always remained, amidst the varying 
caprices of fashion, the type of the beautiful, and 
of elegant adornment without vulgar display. 
Other patrician ladies imitated Johanna Malipiero, 
and even in the titles of the books which taught 
the art of lace-making there was a mixture of art 
and fashion. 

Here, for instance, is the title given in 1529 by 
Nicolo d^Aristotele, called Zoppino, to his book, '' An 
exemplar of work by which little girls and other 
noble ladies can easily learn the rules and style 
for working, sewing, &c.'* 

And in 1537 the same Zoppino publishes " General 
rules of Ancient and Modern Work, in which people 
of talent will be able in our time to use the needle 
with dexterity." 

Another work printed 1540 by Mathio 'Pagan in 
frezzeria bears a still more remarkable title : " Uho- 
nesto esempio del virtuoso desiderio che hanno le donne 


di nohil ingegno circa lo imparere i jpunti tagliati a 
jioramV \ and I might mention many more. The 
Dogaressa, who is supposed to have encouraged lace- 
making, was buried in the Church dei Santi Gio- 
vanni e Paolo. The portrait of Johanna Malipiero 
has been handed down to us on a large medal which 
has on one side the head of Pasquale Malipiero, and 
on the other that of Johanna, with these words : 
''Indite Johanne Alme — TJrbis Venetiar Ducise,^' A 
large cap adorns the head of the Dogaressa ; she is 
old, her face is lean, her cheeks hollow, her forehead 
high, and her eyes sunken. This medal, of fine 
workmanship, has been attributed until lately to 
Guidizzano, but it is in reality the work of a power- 
ful and unknown artist of the 15th century. There 
exists in the museum at Berlin a medal of the same 
kind with the identical portrait of Johanna Mali- 
piero, but instead of the effigy of the Doge Pasquale 
are two women standing, and around it the words : 
** Vincit Jionia bona volontas ; " and underneath, 
" Opjbs. Petrus. D. Domo. Fani,'^ The medal in the 
museum at Venice must also be the work of Maestro 

It is recorded of the wife of Cristoforo Moro, who 
in 1462 followed Pasquale Malipiero as Doge, that 
she was most amiable and very good to the poor. 
Her name was Christine, daughter of Leonardo 
Sanudo, wife of Moro, and related to the celebrated 
Marin Sanudo, who wrote : ** The Dogaressa was 
sister of my father's father." She was conducted to 


the Palace with the usual pomp, accompanied by 
pitriciaus and matrons on the Bucentaur amidst 
the ringing of bells and the joyful cries of the 
people. " Solvit navis Bucentaurus,^* wrote the old 
chroniclers, *^ et jpalatium versum cursum tenuit, pre- 
cedentibiis, suhsequentibus hurchis et barchis artificumy 
cum vex illis suis aureis singulari applausee populi\^ 
At the coronation -fetes of Cristoforo More, the 
Dogaressa, with her maids of honour, appeared on 
the stand prepared especially for her, and on that 
occasion the Senate renewed the decree forbidding 
any noble to enter there, under pain of being kept 
away for six months from the Grand Council, 
besides having to pay a fine of twenty-five pounds. 
Sanudo again mentions the Dogaressa Christine in 
his will of September 4th, 1533, in the deeds of 
Girolamo Canale. Marino left to the Church of San 
Sebastiano a noble relic, a bone of St. Sebas- 
tian's, with these words : " Item lasso a la Ckiexia 
di M. San Sebastiano mea dignissima reliquia 
chb e un osso de Miss San Sebastiano, qual havi'a la 
dogaressa da cha Mora fo da cha Sanudo, et la caxa 
nostra sernpre e sta preservada di peste e nan ge 
lavendo data in vita voio el ge sia dato perche euss 
feci vodo in la mia malattia di darglielo ; a la qual 
prego le sia fatto me bel Tabernacolo.'* 

Marino's character shows itself in these simple 
words, and we see besides the piety of the Dogaressa 
Christine, who, by her will of January 14th, 1471, 
endowed the monastery of San Giobbe with a per- 

DEA TRON. 185 

petual chaplaincy, so that prayers might be said for 
the souls of her father, her mother, and her 

Christopher Moro died, and Nicholas Trono was 
elected Doge on November 23rd, 1471. He was 
rich and munificent ; he had lived for fifteen years at 
Rhodes, accumulating 60,000 ducats in ready money, 
besides 20,000 ducats in merchandise and landed 
property. This big, ugly, and spluttering man had 
married Dea Morosini, a woman of extraordinary 
beauty. The Doge wished to celebrate his election 
by magnificent fetes, and he also a gave public 
banquet to the Arti, when the Dogaressa, wearing 
a gold mantle, was conveyed from her house of San 
Silvestro to make her triumphal entry into the- 
Palace with the usual solemnity, accompanied on 
the Buceniaur by the Councillors and by a number 
of patricians. Mensce erant dispositce pro celeberrimo 
et solemni ejpulo — as is said in the account of the 
<5eremonies of that year. Palazzi, in his usual exag- 
gerated way, wrote that the words piety and beauty 
corresponded with the Princess's name, and that 
Dea was not a name, but a sobriquet, for she was 
the Venus of that century. According to some manu- 
script diaries, this Princess used to say jokingly 
about her name, Bea se a Bio, and that the Doge 
declared that he owed his good fortune to the 
prayers and pious life of his wife. One of the usual 
:flatterers of patrician families praises the Dogaressa 
for her rare modesty, and calls her a Bea, which is 


in truth only an abbreviation of the name Alidea or 
Aliodea, However, her modesty is proved by her 
wish not to be buried in the superb mausoleum 
which her husband erected in the Church dei Frariy 
but to have a simple tomb in the monastery of St. 
Job. The following inscription was placed on the 
gravestone : — 

DeaB rariRS Mulieris illustriss Dom. Nicolai Throni inclyti Ducis 
Venetiarum conjugis, humili hoc in loco corpus jussu suo conditinm 
est, animam vero ejus propter vit^e virtutena et morum sancti- 
tatem, ad cselestem patriam advolasse credendurn est. 

Ann. Salutis mc.c.c.c.lxxviii. 

Some Veronese historians have assigned to 
Nicholas Trono, old and deformed when the 
husband of the beautiful Morosini, a second wife, 
Laura Nogarolo, a woman not only of extraordinary 
piety, but most intellectual, very well read, es- 
pecially in matters of religion, and the writer of 
many clever articles. So affirm, amongst others, 
Corte, Torresani, and Maffei. Torresani, repeating 
that Laura, daughter of Leonardo Nogarolo, and 
sister of the famous Isotta, was the wife of the Doge 
Tron, wrote — 

Laura wife 

1st of Christopher Peregrini, 

2ndly of Nicolai Trono. 

But Nicholas Trono married in 1424 Dea Moro- 
sini, who was crowned Dogaressa, and survived her 
husband. Hence the Veronese historians must 
have been drawn into error by the marriage of 
some homonym of the Doge's. It is added that in 


1471, Christoplier Pellegrini, tlie husband of Laura 
Nogarolo, was ambassador in Venice to Nicholas 

Nicholas Marcel lo was elected after Trono in 
1473. He lived only a year, and had for his first 
wife Bianca Barbarigo, and for his second a Con- 
tarini, the widow of Francis Mocenigo. In his 
will, dated July 24th, 1473, Nicholas Marcello 
wrote — 

" Gontarina mia diletta consorte, sia in carta di dote 
ducati 1800 d'aro^ zoe millotto cento, la quale mi dette 
ducati 200 d'oro et cussi voio che ge hahhia ducati 
2,000 d^oro, et ajpjpresso i lasso tutte veste, manti et 
vestidure et altre cosse fo per so uxo come le stanno, et 
oltra i lasso el mio pro dHmprestedi paga di marzo et 
setembrio 1457 et marzo et setembrio 1459 fino 
Vultimo pro me attrova a ditta Camera,^^ &c., &c. 

Nicolo finished his will by recommending princi- 
pally to his executors : — " Primo Vanema mia et poi la 
Gontarina mia diletta consorte, la quale voio che sia 
contentada konestamente da quelle cose, Vhara a tuor 
per sua uxo, zoe di foriurgJie la caxa de Madonna Santa 
Marina, che V haver a ad habit are in vita soa tanto, 
et occorendo che la non potesse aver, non volesse 
habitarla, voio la ne posi trare uxofuetto de esa in 
affittarla a suo beneplazito, senza alguna condizione, 
zoe in vita soa tanto, a la quale Vanima mia le raco- 

In 1474 the Dogeship came to Peter Mocenigo, 
married in 1429 to Laura, daughter of Giovanni 


Zorzi. A correction of the Fromission of Mocenigo 
provided that the Doge, being dead, his family must 
at the end of three days leave the Ducal Palace. 
Andrea Yendrarnino succeeded in 1476, and he re- 
peated the promise that neither the Dogaressa nor 
his children should ever aspire to be elected even to 
the insignificant posts of registrar, house-steward, 
and such-like, important places being, of course, 
quite out of the question. Regina Gradenigo, wife of 
Yendramino, was not crowned, but made her solemn 
entry into the Palace. 

Giovanni Mocenigo, brother of the former Doge 
Peter, succeeded Yendramino in 1478. Taddea 
Michele, wife of the Doge Giovanni, enjoyed for only 
a little more than a year the splendour of her position 
in the gilded halls of the Palace, where nothing was 
wanting to the princely luxury required in those 
times, not even a menagerie of choice animals. 
Taddea died of the plague on October 23rd, 1479, 
and was the first Dogaressa who preceded her hus- 
band to the grave. "Wishing to keep the demise of 
the Dogaressa a secret from the Doge, who was 
seriously ill at the time, they did not even toll the 
bells. But the novelty of the occurrence and the 
sad state of the town, then decimated by the 
plague, did not prevent the Republic from display- 
ing at the Dogaressa' s funeral the pomp suitable 
for a prince's consort. The statue of the deceased 
was exposed in the Hall del Piovego, and the body 
was placed in the Church of St, Geminiano^ adorned 


with a gold mantle and the Ducal coif. The next 
day the corpse was transported into the Church of 
StL Giovanni e Paolo, where was prepared the canopy 
always used at the obsequies of the Doge, and where 
a hundred sailors stood around the catafalque. The 
body was accompanied by the clergy and all the reli- 
gious orders, by the congregations, the Chapters from 
St. Peter and St. Mark, the five schools dei Battudiy 
three orders of the Finzocchere, the Signoria, the am- 
bassadors, and the nobility. The funeral was similar 
to those of the Doges, except, wrote Malipiero, that 
only twenty patricians watched over and accom- 
panied the body, and the Doge's shield was not 
carried in the procession. 

Lucia Ruzzini, on the contrary, a beautiful and 
clever woman, survived her husband, Mark Bar- 
barigo, for many years. Marino Sanudo, not given 
to flattery, said that she was a talented woman 
{donna da assai). 

One day Doge Marco quarrelled with his brother 
Agostino, and grew so irritated that he fell dan- 
gerously ill from it. Feeling his end approaching, 
he summoned his four sons to his bedside. He 
repeated to them the duties of a citizen towards his 
country, kissed and blessed them, and expired soon 
after. The Dogaressa was ill at the time, and only 
on her recovery did she hear of her husband's death. 
She lived until the 30th of July, 1496, and a fort- 
night before her demise she made her will, and 
desired to be buried in the Church of Santa Maria 


della Garitay where tlie remains of the Doge had 
been laid, oltm vin mei. She left to her sister 
Margherita, abbess of the hospital of Ogm'ssanti, in 
Murano, five ducats and one of her new silk dresses, 
and to her two daughters, who were nuns, she 
bequeathed another dress with a large cape. And 
lastly the Dogaressa desired that a Circassian slave, 
called Maddalena, after having served her sons for 
seven more years, should be liberated et franca ah 
omni vinculo sermtutis. As the death of his wife 
had been kept a secret from the Doge Peter 
Mocenigo when he was ill, so the decease of her 
husband was concealed from Lucia Barbarigo. 
These facts tend to prove there was no intimate or 
daily intercourse between the Doge and his wife. 
This resulted no doubt from the exigencies of State 
ceremonies, or rather the chief men in the Govern- 
ment desired that the Prince should be separated as 
much as possible from his relations to prevent all 
family influence. 

The Doge Agostino Barbarigo died in the first 
year of the 16th century, and he was succeeded by 
his brother Mark, who had married a lady of the 
Soranzo family. 



Excessive Lttxuet of the Sixteenth Century — Solemn 
Coronation of Zilia Priuli — Laws respecting the 
Suite and Court of the Dogaressa — The Doga- 


Widow of the Doge Sebastian Veniero. 

In the sixteenth century a luxury surpassing all 
bounds was encouraged by servility, and betokened 
the decline of Yenice. The love of show caused the 
Venetians to neglect moral worth, and beauty was 
placed on a par with genius, whilst they thought of 
nothing but vanity and pleasure. The Republic 
hid this corruption beneath a golden cloak of 
banquets, finery, and ceremonies. Thus, if the 
mind is saddened at the sight of a great nation 
losing little by little all its power, it is at the same 
time dazzled by the brilliancy of the feasts, the 
elegance of the costumes, and the refinement of 
manners. The patriot laments, but the artist 

During the Dogeship of Leonardo Loredano, which 


occupied the first twenty years of the 16th century ^ 
good fortune seemed to have forsaken Venice 
in her struggle with the other European nations^ 
who for a time united against her. The Republic, 
however, thanks to the wisdom of her statesmen, 
escaped gloriously from her dangerous position ; 
but sacrificesjjhad to be made, and Venice lost some 
of her former energy. She recovered her pro- 
vinces, but she had to use all her skill in concealing 
from the scrutinizing and envious eyes of foreigners 
the incurable wounds she had received ; she was 
too proud to let them perceive her calamities, and 
she sought forgetfulness in dissipation. The 
Governors kept careful watch in the halls of the 
Palace, and often laments for the past and sad fore- 
bodings for the future filled their minds ; but when 
a foreign Prince arrived in the Lagoons, or a Doge 
was elected, or a Dogaressa made her triumphal 
entry, then the grave magistrates sought to prove 
to the people and to strangers by the magnificence 
of her f^tes and the sumptuousness of her banquets 
how great Venice still was. " These grand dis- 
plays," says a decree, " happen often, and are 
admired by all those who flock to this city, and are 
then mentioned in the various kingdoms, princi- 
palities, and noblemen's houses throughout the 
world." The same idea induced the Government 
to surround their representatives at foreign Courts 
with great splendour. The appearance of Venice 
at that time is aptly reproduced in Paul Veronese's 


pictures (Gene), where, in spacious galleries, the 
patricians invite Kings to their sumptuous ban- 
quets. But in that century the quiet enjoyment 
of the Quattro-cento had made way for noisy 
merry-making. In the former was displayed a 
simple and gracious hospitality ; in the ceremonies 
of the Cinquecento we notice an exaggerated osten- 
tation and a superfluity of refinement. 

The triumph (Venetian festivals were always 
called triumphs) held at the coronation of Zilia 
Dandolo, wife of the Doge Lorenzo Priuli, was 
most remarkable. The Sigaory and at least 60 
Senators, among whom was the knight John 
Cappello, in a gold mantle, because he was the 
father of a son-in-law of the Prince's, having 
assembled on the 18th of September, 1557, in the 
Hall of the Doge, descended with great pomp and 
according to ancient custom from the Ducal Palace 
and proceeded towards the Piazza di San Marco, 
Having approached the Campanile, where, on a 
small terrace, the Ambassadors of the Emperor and 
of the Dukes of Savoy and Urbino were seated, 
they passed on to the Beccheria. Here the Com- 
pany of butchers had erected a large triumphal 
arch, with handsome festoons, in the middle of 
which was placed a model of St. Mark, and above a 
balustrade with mock columns, over which waved 
two large banners. Two large knives, ensigns of 
the trade, were painted at each end, and above 
these the coat of arms of the Doge and Dogaressa. 



Upon the outside of the pillars of the arch, covered 
with cloth, and painted with variegated decorations, 
were represented the four cardinal virtues, and on 
the inside were depicted four giants, holding swords 
and shields in their hands. Spoils and trophies 
surmounted the arch and columns, with the device, 
" Long live St. Mark," and in the middle on a solid 
flooring of pinewood was placed a table covered 
with a very handsome cloth. The procession 
passed without stopping beneath the arch, and 
arriving at the landing-place on the Lagoon went 
on board the Bucentaur^ and proceeding by the 
Grand Canal paused at St. Barnabas, on the 
shores of the Palace of Girolamo Priuli, the 
proctor of St. Mark and brother of the Doge. 
The fine Palace looked quite splendid when 
adorned with the costly gold and silk hangings. 
The Dogaressa advanced to meet the Signory 
and the Senators, between a double row of ladies. 
Zilia Priuli wore the Ducal mantle of cloth of 
gold, a bodice of the same with wide sleeves, and 
a brocaded petticoat ; she had high wooden shoes, 
and on her head a pure white Cretan veil, which, 
fastened by a cap like the Doge's, descended over her 
shoulders. The salutations and greetings over, the 
Dogaressa and her son swore solemnly to observe 
the usual laws, and then, according to ancient 
custom, distributed purses of gold thread to each 
of the Councillors and to the High Chancellor. At 
that moment commenced a regatta oijisolere (a kind 


of long narrow boat), which started from the Church 
of San Antonio at Castello, ^ind terminated at 
a bend of the Grand Canal. During the regatta the 
canal was studded with skiffs, nicely fitted up, in 
which the various guilds danced to the music of the 
fifers, that of the goldsmiths excelling the rest in 
elegance ; it was followed by fourteen gondolas 
covered with crimson damask. The shores of the 
landing-place at St. Mark were guarded by one 
hundred German halberdiers, in the service of the 
Republic. From various sides there arrived in front 
of the butchers' triumphal arch the chiefs of the Arti, 
who, with long suites of followers, went to join those 
who had descended from the boats. Then all the 
guilds, with banners flying, and to the sound of 
drums and trumpets, passed under the arch, pre- 
ceded by the mace-bearers and by the Masters 
dressed in velvet, in damask, and in satin. The 
Bucentaur, in which sat the Princess upon the 
Ducal throne, approached the landing-place at St. 
Mark, amidst the noise of artillery and to the sound 
of bells and music. There was a confusion of ring- 
ing, screams, and uproar. Scarcely had the Doga- 
ressa alighted on the bridge near the butchers' arch, 
than the Doge's equerries appeared, and placed them- 
selves at the head of the loug retinue, preceded by 
trumpeters with silver trumpets. Behind them 
came, two and two, 235 young ladies, dressed in 
satin, damask, and white watered silk, ornamented 
with enormous pearls of wonderful beauty, with 


collars of various shapes, studded with pearls and 
gems of immense value. Amongst these patrician 
ladies the most remarkable were six brides, with 
their hair, interwoven with gold thread, hanging 
loose on their shoulders. Then followed twenty- 
one matrons, dressed in black, with veils on their 
heads. And last came the wife of Vittorio Grimani, 
the Procurator of St. Mark, wearing a dress of 
black satin and ducal sleeves. After her walked the 
Chancellor's secretaries and the two sons-in-law of 
the Prince, holding between them his son dressed in 
Ducal costume. The Doge's two daughters, clad in 
white velvet embroidered in gold, followed alone ; 
one was the wife of Antonio Morosini an d the other 
of Pietro Cappello. 

Then came the Princess, sheltered by an enormous 
parasol, and dressed in cloth of gold, accompanied 
by three equerries, one supporting her hand and the 
two others holding her train ; beside her walked two 
Councillors, Antonio Giustiniano and Marco Cen- 
tanni ; behind her came her brother Matteo Dandolo, 
in a knight's dress of gold cloth. On the right of 
the Senators marched all the other relations of the 
Princess. Thus they arrived at the principal door 
of the Church of St. Mark, closed at the time to 
avoid the press of the crowd. When the Dogaressa 
arrived they were opened again ; the gentlewomen 
belonging to the procession, with the rest seated in 
the porch, entered the church. The canons advanced 
to meet the Princess, and gave her a relic to kiss. 


Conducted by them, singing the Te Deum, to the 
Grand Altar, the Dogaressa presented to the Canons 
a purse containing a hundred ducats. After saying 
some more prayers they presented the missal to 
her, upon which she pronounced some more promises, 
and the Doge's knight said something which was* 
inaudible because of the noise made by the crowd. 
Having risen from the altar, the Dogaressa Priuli 
left the church with her cortege, and ascending the 
Foscari staircase, they all went towards the apart- 
ments which the magistrates of the Arti had assigned 
to each guild. The Company of Barbers had pre- 
pared, in a passage near the ufi£:io delle Acque, a 
table covered with a splendid cloth, with seats all 
round, and the Dogaressa visited it first, and the 
steward or manager of the Arte came forward to 
receive her, saying, " Welcome, your Highness; we 
barbers, your faithful subjects, rejoice with you, and 
we pray you to condescend to eat with us ! " 

And he waved his hand towards the repast, com- 
posed of various viands and wines which had been 
sent early in the morning by the Prince to every 
guild. The Dogaressa replied to the invitation, 
" We are happy to see you, and we are much obliged, 
but we do not need any refreshment, as we are some- 
what fatigued. We will accept your hospitality 
another time, for now we must proceed to visit the 
other guilds I " 

The barbers then added, " Pray, your Highness, 
look upon us as your devoted subjects I " 


After pausing to look at the decorations, she 
added, smiling pleasantly, " We will do so ! " 

She then went on her way, and was received by 
the Goldsmiths' Company with the same ceremonies. 
To this Arte was ceded a room placed between that 
of the Barbers. They adorned one wall with some 
very fine hangings, divided into squares by trim- 
mings of various colours ; on the walls opposite were 
placed handsome sideboards covered with plate and 
other ornaments all of solid gold and silver. 

The Dogaressa and her suite, having passed 
through the gallery, which was shared by the two 
guilds above-mentioned, entered a long corridor 
fronting the piazza, and perceived that it was covered 
from end to end with an immense sky-blue cloth, 
dotted with gold stars and embellished inside and 
out with the finest tapestry and the most beautiful 
carpets. The four columns in front of the ofiice 
dei Signori di notte at Criminale were enveloped in 
crimson damask; 26 standards floated over the 
parapets, with 12 coloured banners. Each window 
recess was adorned with a garland surrounding the 
crest of the Dogaressa's family. To each guild was 
attached a violin and fife band. The Princess then 
proceeded along the corridor on the left, where was 
situated the office dei guidici di Fetizion^ and she 
was met there by the Company of Tailors. These 
had embellished the corner of the corridor with 
handsome tapestry, and covered the walls with 
crimson velvet, picked out with gold, and the 


ceiling with scarlet cloth, embossed with yellow 
cloth, brocaded with flowers and foliage, and in the 
middle were placed two coats ot arms. A few 
steps further on, in the office del guidici del 
Esaminatore, the Company of Shoemakers adorned 
the room with choice figured tapestries, and covered 
the ceiling with cloth decorated with painted roses 
of a large size and edged with gold. Festoons of 
ornaments, Damascus carpets, and a great quantity 
of plate, helped to make the room look beautiful. 

Still further on, in the office of the guidici del 
Forestier^ allotted to the Mercers' Company, the 
Dogaressa admired the rich silk hangings, and a 
large veil adorned with brocade and embroidered 
in various colours. Over the door lintels were 
suspended, very handsome gold and pearl em- 
broideries, and from a pillar depended hangings of 
green silk, interwoven with gold, with various 
lovely festooned ornaments. The beauty of the 
room was rendered complete by a wonderful decora- 
tion of silver vases, a beautiful perfume vase, and 
other works in silver, placed round the tapestry. A 
little beyond, in a small passage between the office 
dei guidici del Forestier and that of the guidici del 
Mobile, the furriers had arranged a quantity of 
choice tapestries, and many silver vases, and over 
the door a cloth of green satin, having in the 
middle a design of the Pascal Lamb. The braziers, 
in the office dei guidici del Mobile, had ornamented 
the ceiling with stars, the door with garlands, and 


placed in a corner two brass pails, embossed, and 
in the centre of the apartment one of silver. 

In the office of the guidici del Procuratore the 
armourers placed a stand with various kinds of 
arms, and a table laden with plate, and they covered 
the room with figured silk and gold arras, orna- 
menting the ceiling with sky-blue cloth embellished 
with stars. The painters, placed in the corner 
between the office of the Auditori nuovi and that of 
the Frocuratore, adorned their room with carpets 
and brocaded cloth, on which was painted the 
motto " Pictoresy They had also a table with 
various kinds of plate. 

In the office of the Cattoveri (that is to say 
Magistrates charged with watching over the 
property of the Corporation), the dyers were 
honoured with a visit from the Dogaressa, and 
afterwards passing beyond the second corner of the 
gallery, she was received by the silk- weavers in the 
office dei Signore di notte al Criminale, which was 
covered with very handsome silk hangings, and a 
great quantity of embossed plate. Over the door^ 
adorned with wreaths, were three pieces of silk of 
yellow, gold, and crimson hues. 

The hall of the Fiovego, placed at the disposal of 
the four companies of carpenters, blacksmiths, 
masons and engravers, decorated with handsome 
furniture, with four tables, one on each side of the 
room, laden with silver ornaments, had designs in 
the centre of the walls of the particular badges of 


-each of these companies, and over the entrance 
door, surrounded by garlands, the arms of the 

The gunners, placed in the office of the Auditori 
novissimi, equalled the other guilds in the richness 
of their decorations, amidst which appeared Sta. 
Barbara, their tutelary Saint. In the office of the 
^uidici del proprio, the Dogaressa found the tanners, 
and a little beyond the bakers. Everywhere was 
displayed a profusion of exquisite decorations. 

The glass-blowers, placed at the foot of the stair- 
€ase leading to the Hall of the Great Council, were 
visited last. They exposed specimens of their 
various works amidst splendid ornamentations. 

When the Dogaressa reached the Hall, she seated 
herself on the Ducal throne, with the matrons of 
her suite on her right, and on her left the Coun- 
cillors, the chiefs of the Quarantia, her brother 
Matteo, and the Knight Cappello, dressed in crimson 
satin. On the benches near the principal entrance 
were seated the lawyers, the knights, the senators, 
and then all those invited, belonging to the Venetian 
Senate. The young ladies placed themselves on a 
double row of seats, and in the middle of the room 
the patricians and masqueraders walked about. 
The fifers, placed upon a stand near a parapet on 
the quay, played all the time. When it grew dark, 
they lighted forty torches, and fastened them to the 
ceiling, and other lights having been placed all 
through the Palace, 360 of the chiefs of the guilds 


were chosen, who, arranged in proper order, carried 
on silver trays and dishes sweetmeats and preserved 
fruits of various kinds. The members of the Arti^ 
with drums and trumpets, and preceded by the 
mace -bearers, by a hundred youths clad in silk 
garments, walking two and two, and carrying 
lighted torches, with twenty-five noblemen on one 
side wearing long garments of black velvet, de- 
scended from the Palace by the door delle Biade^ 
and showed themselves to the crowd in their rich 
dresses. Having re-entered the Palace when it was 
quite dark, they returned to the Hall of the Grand 
Council, and offered to everybody sweetmeats and 
refreshments. Meanwhile a pyramid of fireworks 
was erected in the courtyard, and with the squibs 
and noise, which lasted for three hours, was con- 
sidered in those days a wonderful spectacle. After 
the refreshments came dancing, and a sumptuous 
supper was prepared at an advanced hour of the 
night in the Hall of the Pregadi, Then the ball was 
resumed, and lasted till the next morning. During 
the two following days the people were allowed to 
enter the courtyard of the Palace at sunset. The 
next morning the butchers gave a bull-fight in that 
same court, and in the Piazza till dark, repeating 
it the next day before the Princess and her relations, 
and lastly all the guilds danced to the sound of 
music in the galleries of the Palace, and there were, 
besides, regattas on the Grand Canal. The third day, 
after luncheon, all the companies of traders, with 


banners and standards flying in the wind, and to 
tlie roll of drums, descended into the courtyard of 
the Palace, going round it several times, and then 
into the neighbouring streets, showing off their 
wonderful procession. At night a heavy downpour 
of rain came on, which made them return to the 
Palace, where they spent the whole night in dancing 
and pleasant converse. Faithful to the custom of 
his predecessors, the Prince walked about the 
rooms, visited the various guilds, and praised their 
works and decorations, and having thanked their 
managers, who went up one by one to kiss his 
hand, he retired to his private rooms. The Com- 
panies left the Palace immediately, and returned in 
the most orderly manner to their homes. The 
triumphal feasts of ancient times seemed to be 
renewed, nor were there wanting poets to celebrate 
in Latin verse the splendour of such festivities. 

Quas decus aetherum, terrarum gloria tandem 
Gilia progreditur, potuit Dea, vertice odorem 
Spiravere comae divinum, vestis ad imos 
Defluxitque pedes. 

In the first year of the election of Lorenzo Priuli 
we find the name of the Dogaressa on the title-page 
of a curious little book, " How a Man can Live over a 
Hundred and Twenty Years," by Tomaso, Philologer, 
Eavenna (ap. Matheum Paganum, July 25th, 1557, 
in 8vo). The Doge does not appear to have profited 
much by the lessons of the Ravennese philologer, 
for at the end of three years he died. In the 


Ceremonials, still extant in the State- Archives, 
there is a picture of the Dogaressa Priuli in widow's 
weeds, with wide zendado also black. The Govern- 
ment, by a decree of 1559, bestowed upon Zilia an 
income of 300 ducats per annum, in order that she 
might live honourably ; she was to dress in a manner 
considered proper by the Assembly, and she was to 
have in her household, besides the men and maid- 
servants, four young ladies of rank, chosen by her- 
self. They considered that it would be unworthy 
of the State of Venice if a Prince's widow who 
had made so solemn and public an entry into the 
Palace should not be maintained in a manner suited 
to her rank, and only appear like a private 
person. Great were the honours afforded to Priuli's 
widow, when she died on October 13th, 1566. The 
embalming of the body is related with the most 
precise and crude details. The brain and the 
intestines were removed and placed in a mortar, 
and the corpse was well washed with spring water 
and vinegar, and then filled with tow, and two 
sponges placed under the arms. The body, clad in 
the dress of nuns of St Alvise^ with an over- 
petticoat of gold and a thin linen veil, and the 
Ducal cap on the head, was placed in a bier and 
exposed on a high scaffolding adorned with 
tapestry in the hall of the FiovegliL Three days 
later, the Papal Legate, all the Ambassadors, 
Councillors, heads of the Quarantiay and of the 
Council of Ten, the Procurators, the lawyers, the 


inspectors, the Senate, the junto, 300 nuns, and 
friars from all the monasteries of the city, the lay- 
sisters of all the congregations, the children of the 
Foundling, the fraternities, the schools, the religious 
orders, &c. Twenty-three relations of the deceased 
followed, dressed in mourning, with cowls and 
cloaks with long trains. At the hour of vespers, 
the Doge Girolamo Priuli, successor to Lorenzo, 
wearing his scarlet cloak and his cap, ascended the 
golden staircase, and with the Papal legate, and the 
Dogaressa's son, proceeded towards the hall of the 
Pioveghi, where he seated himself on his throne. 
The rector, the priests of St. Mark, and of the 
parish where the Dogaressa had lived, were as- 
sembled in the hall, carrying the cross, banners, 
and torches. When the prayers and Psalms were 
ended, all the schools of the city, the friars, priests, 
and thirty gavoti filed off. The litter was raised, 
followed by thirty more gavoti knights, secretaries, 
by the chaplain, the equerry, the steward, the bakers 
of her Highness, by two Ducal stewards, by the 
High Chancellor, by the Ballottino, and by the 
Doge himself. 

All the procession descended the staircase of the 
Giants, and having gone round the Piazza, stopped 
at the great door of the Cathedral. The sailors 
carrying the coffin raised* and lowered it six times 
as a sign of salutation, and then continued their road 
by the Merceria, and passing behind the Church of 
San Giuliano, proceeded by the bridge del* Olio, the 


Salisada dei San Lio^ Paradise Street, as far as the 
Church of Santi Giovanni e Paolo, hung inside 
with black cloth, with the cross and the arms of the 
Dogaressa. Here they placed the body upon a 
catafalque covered with carpets and surrounded 
by torches. The Doge took his place in the choir 
to hear the Eector of the collegiate Church of San 
Fantino, who could not find words enough to exalt 
the virtues of the deceased : lam vero, Zilice virtuti 
quce potest par oratio invenire ? The Doge then left 
the church, mounted into a boat, and returning to 
the Palace, dismissed the Signory and the Am- 

As time went on the pomp became greater. 
It is amusing to note what care the grave Coun- 
cillors took of the Dogaressa' s garments and be- 
haviour. A decree of June 24th, 1559, declares it 
to be necessary for the dignity and splendour of the 
Republic that her Serene Highness, as became her 
rank, should have constantly several young ladies 
in her service, and should spend large sums on her 
dress, and for other purposes. The Senate decreed of 
course, for the greater dignity and honour of the 
Republic, that the Dogaressa should have at least 
eight young girls in attendance on her, who, when 
they went out with her, were to wear silk garments. 
And when the Princess went in State she was to be 
accompanied in two boats, adorned with tapestries, 
by the same number of noble ladies, besides the 
eight damsels mentioned before, suited to the posi- 


tion she had to keep up. And for that purpose 
they assigned to her, out of the treasury, fifty 
ducats monthly, to be paid into the office of the 
Camerlenghi di Comune, The Senate took the pre- 
caution to inform unmarried Doges that the said 
sum would not be allowed them. 

These necessities increasing constantly, with the 
greater luxury, and all the splendid refinements of 
civilized life, were in keeping with the vigorous and 
exuberant designs of Venetian art in the 15th 
century. Titian and Paul Yeronese took for the 
models of their drawings and colouring the gorgeous 
fetes, illumined by the mild and clear Venetian sky; 
they accustomed the eye to the sheen of silk, to the 
rich purple tint of the cloth, and to a thousand 
shades of satin. 

Alvise Mocenigo ascended the ducal throne in 
1570. The struggle with the Turks kept the Re- 
public in a state of agitation and peril, until the 
victory of Lepanto weakened for a time the Mussul- 
man power. The wife of Mocenigo, Loredana, wife 
of Alvise Marcello, could not make her solemn entry 
on account of the war. But there are some memoirs 
concerning her, and Ottaviano Maggi, Secretary to 
the Senate, who recited a Latin oration over her 
bier, praises her beautiful face, her excellent dis- 
position, her lively wit, and especially her vast 
botanical knowledge acquired from books, and still 
more by conversing with Michele Guilandini, of 
Padua. " Tu vero, Lauredana matrona mtegerrima, 


converte aliquando oculos in kanc rempuhlicam** thus 
Maggi concluded his funeral oration. '' Of gigantia 
merit," said Palazzi ; and Amaden wrote of her: 
** She appears the same under all circumstances, not 
cast down by tribulation, not rendered proud bj 
prosperity, prudent and kind to her servants, at- 
tentive in church, charitable to her neighbours and 
generous to her friends ; in a word, she was a 
Princess endowed with every virtue I " 

In the adornment of the Church of Santa Maria 
dei Servi, Cicogna drew from Falfero the following 
inscription, which is intended for Loredana : — 

" Serenissima Domus Mocenica Quae Tres Olim Yenetiarum 
Principes Peperit et Quinq. Classium Marisq. Imperatores 
Amplissimos Enixa est etiam Aloysium Hunc Cujus Imaginem 
Cernis Principem Animi Celsitudine Opibus Virtuteq. Prse 
Casteris Spectandum Quo Etiam Kegnante Felicissima Ilia ad 
Echinadas de Turcis Victoria Parta Est Diyinitus Data ad Tanti 
Ducis homen propagandum et cujus tempore Henricus Tertius 
Eex PoloniaB et Franciae Magnificentissimo Apparatu a Patribus 
Intra Lacunar. Hsec pretiosa Viscera exceptus est. Yix An. 
Lxxvi. ducavit. vii. Obgt. mdlxxii. Laurelanam Marcellam 
Conjugem Ducissam Sanctiss. Exempli Sequutus. Haeredes 
libentiss : dicarunt." 

Loredana Mocenigo died in December, 1572, and 
her obsequies were similar to those of the Doge. 
Her body was clad in the dress of the Nuns of the 
Cross, and over this garment was put a long gold 
robe, lined with lynx-fur; and on the head, over 
the monastic veils, a large white silk veil, edged 
with gold, which covered the shoulders, the latter 
reclining upon a gold cushion. The Ducal cap was 


not placed upon her head, because she had not been 
crowned. A bandage of white silk, trimmed with 
gold lace, was wrapped round her neck and reached 
to her feet, covered with the finest white stockings, 
and by sandals with gold clasps. The corpse of the 
Dogaressa was borne, enveloped in precious shrouds, 
embroidered in gold, and with the same ceremonies 
described at the funeral of Cecilia Priuli, first to 
the Hall of the Seudo, then to that dei Pioveghi, 
where, on December 16th, the clergy, the ambas- 
sadors, the first magistrates of the Republic, and 
the Councillors assembled. The Venetian magis- 
trates were all dressed in violet, except the eldest 
Councillor, who, as Yice-Doge, wore a scarlet robe 
and a velvet stole, having on his right the Papal 
Nuncio, and on his left John Mocenigo, brother of 
the Doge. After the prayers and the service, the 
bier being raised by the sailors, was carried under a 
gold canopy round the Piazza di San Marco ; it was 
raised nine times before the large cathedral door, 
and then carried to the Church of StL Giovanni e 
Paolo, Meanwhile, night had come on ; and the 
obsequies being over, all, accompanied by the torch- 
bearers, left the church, and mounting the gondolas, 
returned home. Liberal alms were given by the 
Doge to the poor of the town, and he, in his 
despair, shut himself up for five days in his room, 
all covered with purple cloth. At the end of six 
days the Councillors, with the whole College, and 
the Papal Nuncio, the ambassadors, and the prelates, 


went to condole with tlie Prince, who received them 
dressed in scarlet, and wearing on his head a crimson 
Ducal cap. In the same costume, but without gold 
ornaments, the next day the Doge left his room, and 
went to hear mass, and then to attend to public 

Alvise Mocenigo died in 1577. The sculptor 
Girolamo Grapiglia raised to the Doge and Doga- 
ressa a faulty mausoleum, which fills almost the 
entire faqade inside the Church of Santi Giovanni e 
Paolo, The urns in which are placed the ashes of 
the husband and wife belong to the superior com- 
posite order of architecture. To the left of the 
spectator lies the efl&gy of the Dogaressa, her head 
covered with the Ducal cap, from beneath which the 
hair hangs down in long ringlets. One clause of 
Alvise Mocenigo' s will mentions the Dogaressa. 
The Princess had left him the property of Villa- 
bona, in the Province of Yerona. The Doge wished, 
as a mark of gratitude to the testatrix, that Yilla- 
bona should always belong to a Mocenigo who bore 
the same name as himself. For that reason, he left 
the estate to his nephew Alvise, obliging him to 
transmit it in his turn to the first-born of the same 
name, and so on. If in the direct descendants of 
the said nephew a son of that name did not exist, 
then Villabona was to pass to the nearest relation 
called Alvise. 

Sebastian Yeniero, the hero of Lepanto, suc- 
ceeded Mocenigo, and reigned only one year. 


Veniero intended to celebrate the entrance of his wife 
Cecilia Contarini into the Palace, and had entrusted 
the arrangement of the fete to his son-in-law, 
Francis Morosini, when death carried him off on 
March 3rd, 1578. Like the widow of Lorenzo 
Priuli, the relict of Yeniero received 400 ducats a 
year, it being considered necessary, according to the 
decree, for the dignity of the Republic, that the 
Consort of the Prince Sebastian Yeniero, of happy 
memory, should possess the means of supporting 
her rank, as well by her dress as by her suite, in a 
way worthy of her position, for she represented in 
a special manner a deceased Prince whose merits 
dwelt in the memory not only of the Yenetians, but 
of many other nations besides. The widowed 
Dogaressa was then obliged to have four waiting 
women, who always accompanied her, to have a 
gondola with two servants, and to adorn her person 
as her four waiting-women told her, and in the 
same style as did her Serene Highess Donna Zilia, 
after the death of the Most Serene Prince Lorenzo 
Priuli, her husband. 


The Dogaressa Morosina Grimani. 

The rulers took every care to make appearances 
seem like reality. Weakness, in order to conceal 
itself, always tries to simulate greatness. And as 
men allow themselves to be dazzled by all that 
glitters, admiration and respect were maintained in 
Venice by external splendour. The Republic was 
really in a most deplorable state, but the merry- 
making in the city was as great as ever, and Venice 
seemed sometimes like a Bacchante, intoxicated 
with pleasure. When Henri III., on his return to 
France from Poland, passed through Venice, the 
Venetians gave him a reception which excited the 
wonder and admiration of the French, who were in 
general only lukewarm admirers of anything foreign. 
Hospitality was not, however, the only incentive to 
gaiety, nor were the pretexts for feasting and merri- 
ment always worthily chosen. On the 13th of June, 
1579, the bells rang loudly, and the city exulted at the 


marriage and coronation of a Venetian lady of noble 
parentage. This grand wedding was not celebrated 
in Venice, nor was the bride one of those sweet, 
gentle ladies we have seen received with such pomp 
into the Ducal Palace. The marriage took place at 
Florence, between Francis, Grand Duke of Tuscany, 
and Blanch Cappello. The Council of Ten, who 
after the flight of Blanch with Bonaventuri out- 
lawed and then condemned to death both the lady 
and her seducer, rescinded the sentence when she 
became the mistress, and then the wife, of the Grand 
Duke. Seventy noblemen, with five hundred horses, 
hastened to Florence to pay their respects to their 
illustrious compatriot. The Venetian envoys having 
done homage to Bianca, the latter was crowned by 
Giovanni Michiel, and proclaimed a true and favourite 
daughter of the Republic, and the nuptial blessing 
was pronounced over her by Giovanni Grimani, 
patriarch of Aquileia, which caused the Florentine 
people to sing with their coarse wit — 

n granduca di Toscana 
Ha sposato una puttana 
Gentildonna Veneziana. 

The Republic began in truth to lose its dignity. 

At the end of the 16th century Venice made a 
greater display than ever when Morosina Morosini, 
the wife of the Doge Marino Grimani (1595-1605), 
was crowned. The historians, poets, and painters 
of the time depict in vivid colours that coronation, 
whicb surpassed in splendour and variety all that 


had gone before, and was well fitted to dazzle the 
public. Very few of even the greatest of the earth 
ever saw themselves surrounded by such a wealth 
of splendour. The solemn entry of Zilia Priuli may 
probably have been considered as the apotheosis of 
magnificence and showy colouring ; forty years later 
the fetes in honour of the Dogaressa Grimani were 
grander still. To the rejoicings of the people were 
added the laudations of the poet, who, turning 
towards the Princess, exclaimed with the exagge- 
rated flattery used at that time — 

magnanima Donna, 
glorioso duce 

Anzi Dina tra noi nera e celeste ; 
In mi la Fe s'indonna 
E Maesta riluce 
E cortesia ne raccoglienze honeste, 
In quelle parti, e'n queste 
Nel nolto, e ne le riglia, 
Negli angelici lumi, 
Nei soavi costumi 

E ne detti, e ne I'opra 6 meraviglia ; 
Gradite 11 puro affetto, 
N^ sia '1 nostro cantar da noi negletto. 

And a stilted orator declaimed — 

Queste splendide pompe (serenissime e singolarissima signora) 
questi meravigliosi apparati, mutole de vivacissimi afifetti dei vostri 
divotissimi popoli, &c., &c. 

The extravagant pomp displayed at the triumph 
of the Dogaressa Grimani cannot be fully realized 
either by the sparkling wit, the brilliant imagery, 
or the sonorous phrases of the writers of the time. 
The actual ceremonies were similar to those used at 


the solemn entry of the Dogaressa Priuli, the order 
of progress being nearly the same, but the luxury 
and expenditure were far greater. We will point 
carefully to the details which added so much to the 
magnificence of the latter ceremony. 

Marino Grimani was elected Doge in 1595, and 
the triumphal entrance of the Dogaressa Morosini 
into the Palace only took place two years later. 
When it was announced it created much rejoicing 
in the city, as much because it was expected and 
desired as because it was a novelty in itself, few 
then living having seen the previous one, for it was 
forty years since Her Most Serene Highness Zilia 
Dandolo Priuli was crowned. 

The Princess invited four hundred gentlewomen 
to accompany her and assist at the ceremony. The 
chief men, according to ancient etiquette, went to 
fetch the Dogaressa at the Palace of the Grimani at 
San Luca, an immense building erected by Sammi- 
cheli. Morosina Grimani, dressed in gold cloth and a 
mantle embroidered in gold, with silver flowers em- 
bossed, with a cap of the same material, from which 
depended a long silk veil, and on her neck a diamond 
cross, sat in the great hall, which had been deco- 
rated with gilded leather. 

After the oaths were pronounced, besides the 
usual seven purses filled with gold, the Dogaressa 
presented the nobles with oselle,* having on one side 

* Ancient coins given to the patricians, which the Doge 
Antonio Grimani substituted in 1521 to the gift of birds killed in 
the Lagoons, and in the place of which the Prince substituted the 
equivalent in money. 


her e^gy adorned with the Ducal cap, and the 
words — 

Mavrocena, Mavrocena ; 

and on the other side, surrounded by a laurel 

wreath — 

Munus Mavrocense Grimana Ducissae. 

Venet. 1597. 

The Princess, accompanied by the magistrates 
and beautiful ladies, all dressed in white silk and 
silver, with enormous pearls and jewels to fasten 
their headdresses, and also round their necks glitter- 
ing pendants, went on board the Bucentaur, which 
had been covered with cloth embroidered in silk and 
gold thread. Lady Lodovtca Over^ wife of Baimondo 
Delia Torre, the Imperial Ambassador, the daughter 
and nieces of the Princess, clad in cloth of silver 
adorned with pearls and brilliants, besides two 
dwarfs, a man and a woman, one dressed in silver 
and green silk, and the other in gold and green 
silk, formed part of the cortege. The Bucentaur 
passed along the Grand Canal, to the sound of music 
and of bells, amidst roar of artillery, of arquebuses, 
and of squibs and crackers. The walls and the 
landing-places seemed transformed into a monster 
ant-hill of noisy and gesticulating people, men and 
boys perched at windows, on roofs, parapets, and in 
niches, and hurrahing loudly. " Every spot was 
crowded with spectators, columns, beams, cornices, 
and any place where there was foot-hold were oc- 
cupied ; some people fastened nails into the walls. 


holding on with their hands and feet, whilst others 
clung to the battlements and some climbed on to 
the roofs and chimney-tops." The weather had 
cleared, after heavy rain, the sun shone out in the 
blue sky, gHstened on the water, illuminated the 
marble and porphyry of the Palaces, lighted up the 
«atins and brocades, flashed on the gold and jewels. 
The Grand Canal presented a lovely and magnificent 
coujp d'oeil. The boats of the Arti floated along 
richly decorated. The one belonging to the cotton- 
spinners is thus described by Monsignor Dario Tuzio : 
'' The cotton-spinners' boat resembled an ancient 
cart, with two large sea-horses, so cunningly 
arranged that they seemed to draw the boat, for 
the legs were in motion. This vessel had four large 
carriage wheels, which by some ingenious con- 
trivance were made to revolve quickly in the water, 
no oars being visible. Adriatico, the sea-god, stood 
a<t the prow, he, with his right hand managed the 
reins and held aloft a trident in his left ; on the 
poop was Neptune, who with his right hand 
governed the rudder, made in the shape of a 
dolphin, and held in his left a trident ; before him 
sat Venice in all her glory upon two lions like a 
queen, and placed the Ducal cap upon the Prince 
and Princess, who knelt before her. Beside the 
Prince stood Religion and Justice, whilst Faith and 
Prudence were placed beside the Princess. These 
figures were real persons, and so richly dressed, and 
adorned with such an amount of gold and jewellery. 


that the effect produced was dazzling. The brigan- 
tine, covered with splendid carpets, was filled with a 
company of handsome youths, richly attired, with 
bands round their necks. Well provided with guns, 
and with the gilded lantern, they rowed about the 
canal." Forty gentlemen, the managers of the f^te, 
had placed themselves in a small but elegant 
temple, designed by Scamozzi, and towed by four 
boats. Then passed the gondolas decked out with 
fringes, and tassels of all colours, followed by the 
peote* richly gilt both inside and out, and adorned 
with images of dolphins and tritons. Afterwards 
came the ferry-boats, decorated with gay-coloured 
stuffs, with sails studded with gold, and flowers and 
feathers, besides ornaments in embossed work. 
The Bucentaur, conveying the Dogaressa and a 
great number of patrician ladies, clad in white, 
arrived at St. Mark, where the college alighted in 
front of the column in the piazzetta. Two pictures, 
one of the Tintoretto school, the other by Andrea 
Yicentino, represent this magnificent spectacle. In 
Vicentino's picture, descending on the platform 
supported by two flat-bottomed boats, is a matron 
having fat cheeks and a full figure. She is smiling, 
her head is surmounted by the Ducal cap, and the 
bosom is visible above the showy dress of yellow 
brocade. The artist, though somewhat wanting in 
accuracy of design, limned faithfully the large con- 
course of gaily-decorated boats assembled round 

* A sort of bark used in the Adriatic. 


the Bttcentaur, and the multitude gathered in joyous 
crowds upon the shore, as well as those who rush 
screaming from the adjoining streets towards the 

The gay-coloured procession began to move. The 
guilds of the Arti stood waiting on the shore with 
their flags and banners; 300 bombardiers first 
saluted the Princess on her arrival with a salvo of 
artillery, and then turned round to make way 
through the crowd. Alighting at the Fiazzetta, the 
Dogaressa passed between the angle of the Palace 
and the two columns, under a triumphal arch, 
erected by the Company of Butchers, consisting of 
four large fluted columns, painted with pictures and 
hung with trophies. On the side facing the Lagoon 
was written : 

Mavrocense. Mavrocense. 

Marini Grimani Venetiarum Ducis coniugi, Ducarium 
felicissime ingredienti, Societas Laniorum homini eins deditissima 
ad veteris observantiae declarationem arcum eius virtutum 
monumentis insignem erexit iv nonas Mai, anno Christi 


And amidst the paintings and trophies on another 
side was placed the escutcheon of the Morosini, the 
paternal coat of arms of the Dogaressa, with the 
inscription : 

Paterni jeneris splendor. 

And on another side the arms of the Priuli, her 
mother's family, with the words : 

Maternae familise ornamenta. 


On the front of the arch looking towards the 
Piazza was inscribed : 

Mavrocense Griman«, Marini Venetiarum Ducis Conjugi 
Sereniss : ordo Laniorum ob eius in Ducarium adventum 
felicissimum ! 

And amidst other trophies the arms of the 
Grimani, with the motto : " Paterni stemmatts 
decus^^ were hung. And that of Pisani, the family 
of the Doge's mother, with the legend, " Maternce 
virtutis insignia,^^ 

There were other inscriptions alluding to the 
figures of the Lion, Victory, and Fame. After the 
gunners, came 900 companions of the Arti, walking 
two and two, waving silken banners in the breeze 
and draping them in a thousand fantastic ways. 
Afterwards 10 captains followed, wearing scarlet 
mantles, then 24 drummers and trumpeters, dressed 
in the Hungarian style, in crimson silk interwoven 
with gold ; the pipers and attendants of the Doge, 
wearing velvet, satin, and black silk garments; then 
followed the master ship-builders, who, with red 
clubs in their hands, preceded 42 young ladies, 
walking on high zoccoli, and clad in white dresses 
with gold fringes and tassels, having in one hand a 
handsome fan of pure white feathers, and leaning 
with the other upon a boy who carried a bouquet in 
a gold holder. Then came more patrician ladies of 
various ages, dressed in green, violet, and black, a 
few magistrates, the High Chancellor in a red 
garment, and two daughters of the Princess and 


six young gentlewomen, her relations, who, accord- 
ing to a contemporary writer, " Oltre grossissime 
jperle at collo, ne havevan (ante e in collana, e su la 
testa e sopra banari tutti tempestati con tramezzi di 
preciosissime gioie che e impossibile di poter estimare il 

It is known that all the relations of the Dogaressa, 
per esser del sangue di sua Serenitd, were allowed to 
wear what was forbidden by law to others. Other 
ladies followed in black velvet garbs. More magis- 
trates dressed in violet silk, more young ladies with 
gowns of green damask over skirts of yellow satin. 
The Dogaressa, supported on each side by two 
senators, closed that wonderful pageant, where 
arms glittered, jewels sparkled, banners waved, 
cloaks fluttered, tassels oscillated, plumes nodded, 
&c., forming altogether a wonderful combination of 
colours, which blended and harmonized, and then 
separated, forming other combinations and con- 
trasts. The Dogaressa, after walking round the 
Piazza, over white carpets, entered the church, and 
after the usual ceremonies, ascended to the Ducal 
Palace to the sound of music, where she was received 
by the Fraternities of the Arti, which were arranged 
in pretty nearly the same order as described at the 
coronation of Cecilia Dandolo. However, the pomp 
with which the rooms were decorated was greater. 
Thus the barbers, besides the tapestries and carpets 
which adorned their room before, had added an 
arch, and on each side was placed a figure repre- 


senting the son of ^sculapius, with the following 

mottoes : 

Non in pestilentia neque in variis gravioribus morbis ; 
Sed ferro tantum e medicamentis medebantur. 

The silversmiths had written on the top of the 

stand on which their works were disposed : 

Laeta veni et nostros non aspernare labores, 

Hie te suscipiet non temerata fides. 

MaurocensB Grimanse piissimas faelicissiemque 

Principi in Ducarium aduentanti, Argentarii deditissirai". 

Then followed the tailors, the hosiers, the mercers, 
and these last had placed an image of the Virgin 
surrounded by beautiful decorations and with the 
inscription : 

Sub tuum prsesidium confugimus." 
DeipariB Virgini pro salute, et felicissimo in Palatium ingressu 
MaurocenaB-GrimanaB Ducis. Optimas Mercari votum voverunt 


And then the Dogaressa visited the armourers, 
the painters, the weavers of silk cloth, the carpen- 
ters, the engravers, the blacksmiths, the masons, 
the bombardiers, &c., who amidst gilded stuffs, 
precious carpets and velvets, had arranged inscrip- 
tions in Latin, praising the Princess. The furriers 
adorned the rooms given up to them with the most 
precious skins of sable, martens, leopards, and 
tigers. In the middle they had written the follow- 
ing text : 

Mavrocenae Grimanae Venetiarum Duci. venationis ex septen- 
trionali plaga et reliquis Europae partibus arcendo frigore delitiisque 
precipua mortalium commoda, et ornamerta, Pelliones suppliciter 
dedicarunt iv Nonas Maij mdxcvii. 


Having proceeded through the rooms, and re- 
ceived the cordial greetings of all, the Dogaressa, 
with her suite of ladies, entered the great Council 
Chamber, and then a ball began, which lasted till 
two o'clock in the morning. The following day, 
another dance was given in the same room, and the 
Dogaressa was present at it, wearing a very hand- 
some mantle, totally different to the one she wore 
the previous day. The ladies' dresses were also 
changed. The Duke of Bracciano opened the ball 
with one of the Dogaressa' s daughters, and it was 
continued for four hours. About midnight, they 
all adjourned to the Bala dello Scrutmio, where a 
sumptuous repast was laid out upon tables ; it con- 
sisted of sweetmeats and confections, handed about 
by patrician youths. 

On the third day the presentation of the Bosa 
(TOro took place, a jewel blessed every year by the 
Pope, on the fourth Sunday in Lent, and offered by 
him to one of the Sovereigns of Europe. Monsignor 
Glaudio Grotta, private secretary to the Pontiff, had 
arrived from Rome, bringing with him the rose offered 
by Clement VIII. to Morosina Grimani. In the 
morning 50 senators, dressed ducally in crimson, 
mounted the ferry-boats, and went to 8an Francesco, 
to the Palace of Anton Maria Graziano, Bishop of 
Amelia and Papal Nuncio. He and Crotta, the 
latter carrying the rose, descended the stairs to- 
gether with many bishops and prelates, and went to 
meet the senators, and after having interchanged 


bows and salutations, entered the boats and returned 
to the Church of St. Mark, where the golden rose 
was deposited upon the High Altar. The Princess 
had previously entered the church with great pomp, 
to the sound of trumpets, fifes, and drums. She 
wore a valuable mantle embroidered in gold thready 
carried by two equerries, and followed by many 
ladies, priests, magistrates, and dwarfs. She had 
taken her place in the choir, in a chair covered with 
crimson satin. The sisters, daughters, nephews, 
wives of the Procurators and of the Chancellor, 
superbly dressed, stood in a circle round the 

After having saluted the Princess, the Papal 
Nuncio went to put on the pontifical vestments in 
which he was to celebrate mass, whilst the Papal 
Chamberlain, the prelates, and the senators went to 
the Palace to fetch the Doge, whom they escorted 
to the church. Mass over, which was performed 
with great ceremony, the Ducal chaplain conducted 
the Papal Chamberlain to the altar beside the 
Nuncio, who, wearing the mitre, sat in an arm-chair 
of crimson velvet. Escorted by a knight, the 
Dogaressa also approached the altar, and remained 
kneeling on the first step, whilst Paolo Ciera, the 
Ducal Secretary, read aloud the Pope's mandate, 
which the Pontiff, knowing Morosina's piety, had 
sent with the jewel. The Pope's Chamberlain took 
the rose and consigned it to the Nuncio, whilst the 
latter offered it with some words in Italian and 
Latin to the Dogaressa, who replied — 


" We greatly thank his Holiness for having 
deigned to bestow upon us so sacred and valuable 
a gift, which we gratefully accept, and promise to 
preserve it diligently and devoutly for love of his 
Holiness, and we shall continually pray to God to 
prosper and bless him for many years to come ! " 

The Dogaressa then handed the rose to the 
Ducal chaplain, resumed her place, and, having 
said some more prayers, returned to the Palace, 
accompanied by her suite. A banquet was prepared 
in the hall of the Grand Council, after which the 
musicians entered, and a dramatic representation, 
arranged by Enea Piccolomini, was performed. 
Afterwards the Princess, with all her ladies, 
descended into the Loggia of the Palace in front of 
the Island of St. George to witness the naval 
tournament which was given on such occasions by 
the crews of English, Dutch, and Flemish merchant 
ships. The sailors, wearing red and white costumes, 
appeared in skiffs, of which there were twenty, 
manned by six oars. Each skiff carried at its poop 
a salient plank, on which stood a sailor with a long 
stick in his hand. When the pinnaces crossed each 
other, or clashed, the sailors on the planks tried to 
hit one another so as to make the opponent fall into 
the water. Then followed other games, and a few 
salutes were fired from three small guns. The 
aquatic f6te ended with the regatta, which the 
splendour of the costumes and the richness of the 
decorations rendered more brilliant than ever. 



The next day the Senate decreed that the 
Dogaressa should keep the holy rose as long 
as she lived, and after her death the jewel was 
to be deposited in the treasury of St. Mark, with 
the other gifts to the Venetian Doges, received 
from the Popes Sixtus IV., Alexander VI., and 
Gregory XIII. The Senate gave to the Papal 
Chamberlain the sum of 500 silver crowns, to which 
the Dogaressa added various gifts of sugar and silk 
stuffs to the value of 300 crown pieces. 

Marino Grimani died in 1605, and eight years 
later the Dogaressa Morosina, a pious and charitable 
lady, followed him to the grave. She died on 
January 21st, in her Palace of San Luca, and 
ordered in her will that her body should not, as 
was then the custom, be embalmed. The corpse 
was conveyed to the Sala del Pioveghi in the Ducal 
Palace, and her obsequies were celebrated in 
presence of the Doge Marcantonio Memmo and of 
all the Senate. The Doge was unable, on account 
of his great age, to follow the bier, which was 
transported to the Church of Santi Giovanni e 
Paolo with the same following and ceremonies as 
at the funeral of the Dogaressa Cecilia Priuli. In 
the minds of those present at the solemn funeral 
arose the remembrance of former festivities and 
splendour. " lllinc clamor ! " exclaimed another at 
the grave of the Dogaressa, " huic silentium ; illinc 
Icetitia, huic moeror; illinc ludi, hmc lacrimce.'^ The 
ashes of Marino and of Morosina rest together in 


the Church of San Giuseppe di Gastello, in a mauso- 
leum of splendid marble, embellished with statues 
and bronzes. The design of it is attributed to 
Yincenzo Scamozzi, but the breadth of concep- 
tion inclines us to believe that Girolamo Cam- 
pagna, who sculptured the statues and modelled 
the bas-reliefs, was the author of the mausoleum 
itself. The monument is formed of an attic and 
four columns of the composite order, which close 
the sarcophagi with the reclining figures of the 
Doge and Dogaressa. The bronze bas-relief beneath 
the urn of the Dogaressa represents the Bishop of 
Amelia, who in St. Mark's offered to Morosina the 
blessed Bosa. In the same church, in a tomb 
sculptured bj Yittoria, reposes the Doge's son, 
Girolamo Grimani, a munificent patron of the Fine 


The Seventeenth Centukt — Arts and Literatuee — 
Provisions for Moderating Luxury and For- 

Entry of the Wife op the Doge Sylvester 
Valerio — New Decrees respecting the Ceremonies 


The glory of Venice began to decline at the close 
of the 16th century, and every year her wealth, 
dominion, and power diminished. A part of her 
maritime possessions were lost, and the Turk, 
weakened but not discouraged, threatened her 
shores. The establishment of new magistrates was 
a bad remedy for her languishing commerce ; the 
germs of corruption sprang up vigorously amongst 
the nobility ; the life of the people was wanting in 
industry and invention . In such times of enerva- 
tion the mind is inclined to exaggeration, genius to 
a vicious style of conception and expression, and in 
daily life the conventional takes the place of truth, 
artificiality of simplicity, and in art there arises a 
redundancy of elegance, whilst true feeling and 


ideality disappear. But in art, as well as in real 
life, licentiousness is not without magnificence, and 
there is a certain grandeur in decay. At this time 
the Republic kept up its dignity in spite of the 
cowardly subjection of other Itahan States, and of 
Spanish audacity. It frustrated by its energetic 
determination the anger and excommunications of 
the Papal Court, and put forward in opposition to 
the corrupt sacerdotal power (a power resting on 
errors and superstition) the quiet firmness of Paolo 
Sarpi, who to a powerful intellect joined a rare 
steadfastness of disposition. The nobles allowed 
themselves to be seduced by pomp and love of ease, 
but from the class of the aristocracy itself arose 
a few men who, animated by the spirit of their 
ancestors, endeavoured to stem the ebbing tide of 
fortune. The paucity of moral worth in that century 
was more than counterbalanced by the glorious 
achievements of Lorenzo Mocenigo, the hero of the 
Cretan war, and of Francesco Morosini, who made 
the shores of the Archipelago resound anew with 
the cry of victory. 

The Fine Arts, in spite of eccentricity and extrava- 
gance, put forth much that was grand and imposing. 
Amidst the irregularities of architecture and the 
anomalies of sculpture the genius of Alexander 
Yittoria and the audacious fancy of Baldassare 
Longhena shone out brilliantly. 

The mouldings and the modules lost their former 
elegance, massive blocks and ponderous cornices 


prevailed, the garments of the statues hung in 
heavy folds, stucco children danced wildly on the 
ceilings, the columns were twisted, gold glittered in 
thick layers on the cornices and along the walls, 
amidst the balustrades, and expanded into flowers 
and festoons, but even in these exaggerated decora- 
tions there was nothing commonplace; the defects 
and designs were sui generis. The glories of the 
preceding century cast a refulgent brightness over 
the succeeding one, and influenced the arts of that 
time. The greatest deterioration manifested itself 
in poetry and painting, two arts in which an accurate 
feeling of measure is most necessary. On the 
canvas appeared no variety of faces, no grace ; the 
painters of only one style, wanting in the power 
produced by the study of the true, imitated the 
carelessness and the precipitancy of Tintoretto. 
Jacopo Palma, the younger, stood at the head of the 
school of Mannerists. Andrea Yicentino, Santo 
Peranda, Aliense, Malombra, Giovanni Contarini, 
Varottari, Carlo Ridolfi, Liberi, and a few more 
followed in his wake, and revealed sometimes some 
flashes of fancy in spite of too much haste and 
freedom in their works. But they found plenty of 
admirers amongst their contemporaries, and Marco 
Boschini, a 17th century critic who did not allow 
himself to be misled, and often, amidst vainglorious 
magniloquence, manifested sound opinions upon art, 
exclaimed when studying the artistic productions of 
his own century : " If we contemplate in an admir- 


ing spirit the museum of Varotari Padovano we 
shall there discover the delicacy of female form and 
the heroic actions of the knights, and in the numer- 
ous productions of Palma the younger the brilliancy 
of nature and the animation of human bodies I ** 
And a more circumspect writer on art, speaking of 
Palma the younger, said that he had reached the 
highest point of perfection in art. Again, the follow- 
ing lines were written upon Palma the younger : — 

El Palma donca a I'incalmar fu lesto, 
Su'l verde ramo del s6 bel inzegno, 
El fior del colorito e bel disegno ; 
E do gran mistri ghe don6 I'inesto. 

L'un Tician fu, quel altro el Tentoreto 
Dove con spada e targa di tal sorte 
L'e sta un eroe, che ha supera la morte 
Co I'elmo in testa, e indosso el corsaleto. 

E le so imprese fu de tal sustanza 
Che lo se vede andar per tuto el mondo 
Se s6 cose non ha ne fin, ne fondo 
L'ha fato piu che no fe Carlo in Franisa. 

De i s6 quadri ghe xe le Giesie piene, 
Le Sagristie, le Scuole e Compagnie 
De i lioghi Sacri ; ne le xe busie 
Tute n6 le puol scriver mile pene. 

In verita che'l ghi ne ha fato tante, 
Che'l numero e infinito, che i quadroni 
Le s6 figure certo e a milioni 
E tute de bon peso, e trabucante. 

. L'^ sta dominator de si gran Arte, 
E in tal muodo patron de la Pitura, 
Che in quatro colpi el facea una figura, 
E le se vede in tole, in tele e in carte. 


There are some verses of another work of Marco 
Boschini, which bears this title on the frontis- 
piece — 

La carta del Nayegar Pittoresco, dialogo tra un Senator 
Venetian deletante, e im professor de Pitura, soto nome d'Ese- 
lenza e de Compare compartio in oto venti con i quali la Nave 
Venetiana vien conduta in I'Alto Mar de la Pitura, come assoluta 
dominante de quelo a confusion de cbi non intende el bossolo de 
la calamita. 

The title was, indeed, worthy of the verses, but 
the critic is without comparison superior to the 

Poetry, devoid of powerful imaginings, betrays a 
verbose abundance and plebeian triviality of con- 
ception. Thomas Mondini travesties Tasso as a 
barcarol venesiano, and in the following lines the 
fugitive Herminia — 

Erminia intanto in fra la scuritae 
D'un bosco co gran pressa se la bate, 
La xe tanto stremia che in veritae 
Mi credo che ghe trema le culate. 

They thus vulgarly transformed one of the most 
charming creations of Italian poetry. 

The strangeness of imagery, the mania for dis- 
covering new styles, neither used nor cared for, 
were joined to a serviHty of sentiment, and the 
Eepublic, like the monarchies, was not wanting in 
courtier poets. Venice had always possessed en- 
thusiastic flatterers, but, in the preceding centuries, 
panegyric, even when exaggerated, betrayed a 


certain sincerity of conception and expression. For 
instance, a poet of the 15th century wrote — 

Pizola fosti e mo sei tanta larga 
Atorno a torno el mondo se inchina 

Tu sola sei Raina 

Sopra ogni regno nel mondo creato. 

Even at that time, according to a contemporary 
writer, the city was in gran calamitade per timor de 
la perdita de lo Stato marittimo, perche mancando 
la navigatione e il Stato marittimo a^Venesiani man- 
cariano etiam la riputatione e la gloria lore, ed in 
pochissimi anni se consumeriano a poco a poco. 

The sad prognostic was verified two centuries 
later, but even then Yenice retained sufficient power 
and magnificence to arouse the laudations of her 
many admirers. And for one Chiabura, who praised 
in a noble and generous spirit the Venetians killed 
in the wars against the Turks, how many rhymsters 
there were using careless phraseology, a weak style, 
wordy and commonplace. For them Yenice is — 

.... Moglie di Nereo, ell'e Regina, 
Del Mar profondo, ogni procella acquets 
Et ogni onda I'ammira, e se I'inchina .... 
Febo che il mondo tutto allumi e lustri, 
Vedestu mai citta tanto felice, 
negli antichi o nei moderni lustri ? 

Her glory will never fade — • 

Piaccia a chi tutto pu6, che ognor s'accreschino 

I pregi tuoi, e'n tale altezza sagliano, 

Che il Medo e I'lndo la tua gloria ammirino. 

The gods assemble at the invitation of Neptune, 


desirous to found a city unique amongst all others. 

And Neptune prefers a region where — 

.... figlionli invitti 
Che saran detti lungamente Eneti, 
Poneiido un V. avanti TE. Veneti, 
Detti saranno, indi da lor Venetia. 

Whether in Italian or Latin the theme is always 
the same. 

.... landare viros, urbemque marinam 
-^theream penitus, caelicolamque Deam. 

PaDans are sung to her riches, to her sumptuous 

Tecta regali fabricata luxu 
Et peregrinis opulenta gazis, 
Vi virum nulla populata serus 
Possidet hseres. 

Strangers do not allow themselves to be surpassed 
by native writers, and the Queen of the Adriatic is 
by them considered greater than Eome. 

Roma prior, magnis sed non felicior ausis 
Dura quater Troiae fata parentis habet 
Serior urbs Veneta est, multo e felicior hsec est 
Virgo Barbarica non violata manu. 

And a German professor, alluding to Venice, 
exclaims from his rostrum — 

Turn qui volunt earn viri mortalium 
Sunt flos leposque. 

The poets who turn to ancient times for inspira- 
tion are not more happy in their similes. One of 
them celebrates Pepin's expedition, and after describ- 
ing the prodigies of valour performed by the Yene- 


tians, and the total discomfiture of the Franks, con- 
cludes with — 

La dolce liberta fu posta in trono, 
Da I'Adria le accoglienze riceyea 
E fra tambieri e trombe al lieto suono 
Di Vittoria. . . . 

And another, evoking the hecatomb of Aquileia, 
is consoled when thinking of the birth of Venice — 

Ma perche poi la gloriosa nacque 
Alma Venezia, cbe su'l mar costrutta, 
Crebbe felice si, c'bor non ba pari, 
Temprati fur di tanti duol gli amari. 

But amidst the tares and weeds of the faded 
flowers of epic poetry, we see the flowerets of the 
wood of Parrasio, and between Attila and Pepin 
appear Amaryllis and Tityrus, and amidst warlike 
enterprises the longing after beauty — 

nova o singolare o pellegrina 

Virtii de la bellezza 

In qualunque risplenda 
Bel volto, accompagnata 
Da due begli atti schivi 

Innamora equalmente huomini e Divi. 

And to the merito sublime de le nohilissime dame 
de VAdria, they devoted serenades, wherein appeared 
Proteus, Venus, Fame, Phyllis, Chloris, and French, 
German, Spanish, Italian, and Sarmatian knights. 
In conclusion the scene was transformed into a royal 
courtyard with a splendid fountain in the centre. 
Fame came forth upon a shining cloud, made her 
little speech, and all returned home satisfied. 


The prose tallies with the meaningless poetry, and 
reaches such a pitch of musty vanity and academical 
sweepings, that it is difficult to understand how, at 
that epoch, and in such a depraved atmosphere, the 
calm genius of Paolo Sarpi could arise. 

" Who will be able with the brush of the intellect, 
with the colours of demonstrative reason, now to 
design the portrait of divine pictures and similitudes 
upon the canvas of curiosity ?'' exclaimed a noble- 
man discoursing on Intellect and on Art, and seek- 
ing the most unusual way of expressing the simplest 

The poet Strozzi dedicated his poem to Vimmor- 
talitx del nome di Venesia, Herede de Vantico valore 
fTOjpugnacolo d* Italia, ornamento d^Europa, meraviglia 
de Vuniverso sostegno de la Christiana religione, jprimo- 
genita di Santa Chiesa, oracolo di tutti i principi, 
splendor e di tutti i secoli, seminario dinvitti eroi, 
stanza di vera liberta, gloriosissima in pace, fortissima 
in guerra, sempre magnanima, sempre felice, sempre 
questa, j 

And a knight, Vittorio Sca^'lia, di Chivasso, dedi- 
cated to the Doge Antonio PriuH a pamphlet entitled 
" Likeness of the Most Serene V'rgin Adriatica," in 
which she is represented as a qm^en, " whose hair 
are great thoughts ; the forehead, courage ; the eye- 
lashes, nobility; the right eye, prin iple ; the left, 
elegance ; the nose, conformity ; the cheJ ks, respect ; 
the lips, affability; the tongue, eloquence^'/ &c., &c. 

Who could believe that under the inl^xaence of 


such arts would spring forth the men who fought the 
war with Crete ? Who could believe that such absurd 
trivialities would succeed so soon after the fierce 
war-cries of the combatants in Chios, Paros, and the 
Dardanelles ? Nor could such soft harmony con- 
cealing intellectual poverty, succeed in depriving the 
life of woman of its majesty, for it preserved during 
the greater portion of the seventeenth century a 
grave magnificence. The patrician ladies, in their 
actions, in their graceful movements, showed a dig- 
nified kindness, and, according to a foreigner, are 
majestueuses, Jieres et dedaigneuses. 

Then came a period during which the Republic, 
conquering the danger caused by the Interdict of 
Paul v., and the conspiracy of Bedmar, and find- 
ing once more its ancient valour in the unfortunate 
but glorious war of Crete, seemed anxious to retrieve 
itself, and preserve the country from the corruption 
of luxury. Possibly the magnates wished the 
Republic to assume an air of decorous severity. 
For that reason they fought against noisy foreign 
manners, especially regarding the head of the State 
and the Grand Council, declaring that the preserva- 
tion of ancient customs ajpjportia cadaun contento et 
sia cosa per ogni rispetto laudahile et da essere osser- 
vata pnncijpalmente net nostra moderato governoy vuole 
che i Dogi, i quali rajojoresentano ne le loro persone la 
puhhlica maesta, should observe, even in their dress, 
that which was suitable to the dignity of the Republic, 
and in their apartments must continue the ancient 


custom of un raso piano pendente dal muro a la pro- 
jyria sedia, astenendosi da haldacchini di forma nuo- 
vamente mtrodotfa. 

On the 6tli of November, 1649, there was a 
question in the Senate of the magisterial reform 
concerning pomp, and there were very severe 
censures on luxury, superfluities, and the laxity of 
the times. 

On the 17th of December, 1650, the Senate 
ordered the magistrate to republish and print the 
laws on the question of pomp, and many were the 
especial and particular precautions respecting female 
luxury. A decree of the 6th of May, 1613, mentions 
that the expenses for women's garments were in them- 
selves considerable, and became more so because the 
dresses being used for a short time only, in spite of 
their great price, served merely for vain show. 
They forbade the use of garments of gold, of silver 
and embroidery, and on April 24th, 1633, in the 
Senate, they regulated the ordinances on women's 
garments, materia confiisa per le tante nove forme et 
inventioni intro-dotte. But all arrangements proved 
useless, and new fashions were introduced from 
France and Spain. When the Prince of Tuscany, 
afterwards Grand-duke, under the name of Cosmo 
III., came in 1628 to Venice, he also visited the 
monastery of St. Zachary, and admired the nuns 
dressed elegantly in white dresses a la Frangaise, 
bodices of fine linen, with small folds, and very deep 
lace. The bosom partly uncovered, and on the head 


a small veil from under which the curls escaped. 
The prohibitions against luxury continued to pour 
forth. A decree of January 10th, 1645, has some 
interest for us, considering that it forbade the 
coronation of the Dogaressa. The decree begins 
with these wise remarks, " Conviene net jpro'prio 
sostenimento de la puhlica grandezza jprefiggere anco 
quegli ordini, che niente offuscando il lustro e il decoro 
ne le cerimom'e de le Dog ares se sian joer togliere 
Vohhligatione d^eccessivi disjpendii, aggravanti in par- 
ticolare VArti e i jpojpoli ad altri pest obligati,'* It 
was therefore decided " that for the future the 
coronation of the Dogaressa should be prohibited 
as an unnecessary ceremony and little suitable to the 
moderation of the Government,''^ 

As for the rest, the same prerogatives and 
customs used on other occasions, and permitted by 
the laws concerning the person of the Dogaressa, 
were to be continued. 

At that time the Dogaressa herself seemed to 
object to the brilliancy of f^tes, and Paulina 
Loredano, wife of the Doge Charles Contarini 
(1655-1656), a grave matron, avoided the cere- 
monies, salutations, and applause of the people by 
not appearing in public. But when Francesco 
Morosini, dominating evil fortune, revived the 
valour of his ancestors, and his country seemed 
again to flourish with renewed vigour, merriment 
and gaiety prevailed again in Venice. Sylvester 
Valier succeeded in 1694 the Conqueror of the 


Morea on the throne of the Doges, and disregard- 
ing the laws, he caused his Dogaressa to be crowned 
with the usual ceremonies. On the morning of the 
fourth of March the Princess, dressed in a costume 
of cloth of gold, trimmed with sable, with a white 
veil and a jewelled Ducal cap, besides a necklace with 
a diamond cross round her neck, sat on a throne, 
surrounded by a numerous suite of ladies, and 
received the councillors, procurators, learned men, 
secretaries of State, Avogadori, chiefs of the 
Council of Ten, &c., &c. 

Towards evening the Ducal mantle was placed 
upon her shoulders, and leaning on the arms of 
her nearest relations she entered the banqueting 
hall in which magnificent preparations had been 
made. She seated herself on a raised dais, received 
the congratulations of her relations and ladies, who 
were regaled with baskets of confectionery, and after 
having remained for some time, the Dogaressa retired 
to her rooms whilst the fete was going on. A medal 
was also struck in commemoration of the Princess's 
coronation, upon which was engraved on one side the 
lady's portrait, and on the other these words : — 
" Manus Elisabeth Quirina Valeria Ducissa Vene-' 
tiarum, 1694" 

A few days later the Papal Nuncio, the French 
Ambassador, Badoer, the Patriarch of Venice, the 
Cardinals Barbarigo, Bishop of Padua, and Dolfino, 
patriarch of Aquileia, went to visit the Dogaressa, 
and were received with the usual formalities. We 


find that by permission of the Government other 
visits were paid bj the foreign ambassadors to the 
Dogaressa. On the sixth of May, 1696, Duke 
Moles, the new Spanish Ambassador, visited the 
Princess in great pomp, and she received him 
surrounded by her gentlewomen. He returned 
with the same ceremonies on July 7th, 1696, to 
inform her of the Queen mother's death. On 
March 29th, 1697, the Dogaressa received in state 
the Envoy Extraordinary of Poland, John Bokum, 
and the ambassadors, magistrates, procurators and 
knights went on birthdays to congratulate the most 
illustrious lady of Venice. 

A picture by an artist of the 18th century shows 
us the gentle countenance of the Dogaressa Yaliero. 
A few silver threads appear amidst the fair hair, and 
the face shows traces of a refined beauty. The 
lineaments are serene, the cheeks pale, the eyes and 
forehead illumined by a quiet sparkle of kindness 
not unaccompanied by a certain dignified pride. 

In a century when academies abounded we are 
not surprised to find the name of the Dogaressa on 
the frontispiece of a book belonging to the Ricov- 
rati academicians : " Prose e poeste de gli Accademici 
Bicovrati a la Serenissima Ek'sabetta Vak'era, Doga- 
ressa di Venezia, dedicate al Serenissimo Silvestro 
Valier'' (Bologna, 1695). 

Another set of academicians, the brothers de 
V Oratorio de VIncuraUU del Santissimo Groctfisso 
e de Camor di Bio, had dedicated the Indice de la 


penitenza, oratorio in onore di Santa Maria Mad- 
dalena (Venetia, 1694, appresso Giovanni di Faidi). 
In 1686 tlie fire burst forth in the infirmary of 
Ospitaletto, and at the end of ten years a priest of 
the order of St. Girolamo Ewth'aniy Francesco Caro, 
wrote in an affected and high-flown style three essays 
on this fire, dedicating them to Sua Seremta Elisa- 
hetta Querini Valier Dogaressa di Venezia e governa- 
trice del Fio Conservatorio {Venezia, Bortoli, 1696). 
" Ten years ago," wrote Francesco, " a fire broke 
out in Venice, and raged with such fury that it 
devoured even the stones, assuming the part of 
the Saturn as well as of Yulcan." Then, alluding 
to Elizabeth Valiero : '' This mantle with golden 
flowers, this wealth of treasure, and your suite in 
Venice serve to make you a new planet in Aqua- 
rius." And again, " It is universally acknowledged 
that your fine Ducal cap has become, in times of 
famine, a most rich cornucopia for the benefit of the 
poor ! " 

And when the Doge died the same writer, when 
praising the defunct, after comparing the Doge to 
Solomon, found means to exalt the Dogaressa into a 
new Queen of Sheba. " Gommemoro in Ducissa,' 
exclaimed Caro, " Heroinam ex Querinorum domo, 
cui Naturce etars exornandce totum hauserant studmm; 
ita sane, ut ea Viro suo quoties accessisset, nova tam- 
quam Saba ostendoret Salomonemy What inspired 
flatteries ! In reality he possessed neither fervour 
nor real enthusiasm, but made an ostentatious dis- 


play of great impressions and sensations ; within, an 
utter want of faith and love ; externally, noisy forms, 
likely to influence the mind, brilliant appearances, 
simulating warm feelings. Few women, in so high 
a position, were as unpretending as Elizabeth Valiero. 
What could she understand of such ideas, phrases, 
and imagery? — she, so good and kind, and writing to 
her cousin thus : 

" III. Mo. Stg. Mio. Oss. mo. 

''Your Serene Highness will receive these 
sentiments as coming from my heart, for I desire 
to see you recalled from banishment with all the ad- 
vantages belonging to your birth and fortune. 

" And believe me, though still far away, always 
your Highnesses affectionate and most devoted ser- 
vant and cousin, 

««Betta Querini Valieeo." 

How must the inflated and absurd metaphors 
have sounded in the ears of so modest and good a 
woman ? 

Ostentation and vanity pervaded religion, the 
home, and Art. And Art does in truth flaunt a 
licentious pomp on the mausoleum where repose 
the ashes of Elizabeth Valiero. Anybody entering 
the church of Santi Giovanni e Paolo sees on his 
right hand the immense tomb of the Doge Bertuccio 
Yaliero, of the Doge Sylvester Valiero and his wife 
Elizabeth Querini. The Doge Sylvester left in his 
will for such a monument the sum of 50,000 


ducats, wishing the design to be chosen by his wife 
Elizabeth Querini. It was erected after 1708, by 
Andrea Tirali ; it had gigantic Corinthian columns, 
curvilinear lines ill-combined with straight ones, 
and ungainly statues of every size. In the largest 
inter-columnation, under a great canopy, are placed 
the effigies of the two Doges and of the Dogaressa; 
It is the delirium of art. In this style of art, which 
did not even possess a grand decorative magnifi- 
cence, is evidenced the moral dissolution, which, in 
the following century, is not arrested, but assumes 
another aspect and a different form. The apogee 
of licentiousness having been reached in costumes 
and art, they sought a remedy, and affected refine- 
ment, attenuated elegance as well as idyllic charms, 
fit to lull such generations, awakened later by 
clamorous cries for reform, were opposed to arti- 
ficial pomposities, inflated affectations and bombastic 

The 17th century had closed, and in the first 
year of the following century we find a very 
curious proviso of the Grand Council reviving the 
law of 1645, concerning the coronation of the 
Dogaressa as a useless ceremony. And they forbade 
not only the coronation, but even the wearing of 
the Ducal cap by the Doge's wife. The decree of 
July 13th, 1700, contained also the following 
orders : " It is forbidden to the said Dogaressa to 
receive visits or services on any pretext from 
ambassadors, secretaries, or other envoys of foreign 


princes, or from councils, colleges, or magistrates 
belonging to this town. "When leaving the Palace, 
she may be accompanied by her daughters, sisters, 
daughters of sons or of sisters, daughters-in-law, 
sisters-in-law, but by no one else, except the persons 
of her suite. So likewise, the permission only of 
our Assembly is not sufficient to enable them to 
enter a convent ; there must be a positive decree of 
the Senate given with all the rigour of the Quattro 
Quinti. The century of elegant luxury and of 
coquettish sprightliness opened with these severe 
restrictions on the most noble representative of the 
gentle Venetian sex ; with these stern decrees, that 
period began in which the Venetian lady was a 
graceful queen in society, in the Fine Arts, and even 
in politics. 


Venetian Decadence — Salons — The Patrician 

The decadence of the Venetians reminds us of 
autumn. The freshness of spring, the delights of 
summer, have passed away ; the sadness of the de- 
clining year casts over all things a halo of poetry, 
that consoler of the mind , which already presages 
the approach of winter. The dying glories of the 
Republic have become the theme of exaggerated 
opposition or rhetorical invective. We find, in the 
decline of this great Italian State, besides the 
slothful people, and many noblemen, corrupted by 
idleness, gambling, facile amours, others^ desirous of 
reform, but too timid or weak to carry it into 
execution. Yet we must own that, even in this last 
century of Venetian glory, there were men of 
upright minds, powerful genius, besides honest 
rulers, and dignity in the arts and letters. And 
lastly few will doubt that even amidst frivolity and 


witticisms, ideas of tolerance and civil reform found 
an echo, and in spite of the timidity of most, there 
were still minds faithful to venerated memories. 

Whoever studies calmly the eighteenth century 
in "Venice will find himself surrounded by a serene 
brightness. A fine artistic feeling characterizes 
this century and manifests itself everywhere, in the 
fanciful scrolls of a corbel, as well as in the grand 
decorations of Tiepolo, in the little pictures of 
Longhi, of Canaletto, of Guardi, and in the carved 
foliage of delicate marvels on the ceilings. And 
even at the present day, when we enter rooms 
adorned by Tiepolo and his imitators, and our eyes 
rest upon the beautiful carved furniture, and on the 
splendid stuffs covered with dust, discoloured by 
time, we behold, in spite of the destruction caused 
by men and by time, the remains of things so elegant 
and pretty that we can readily understand how a 
gentle and courteous lady would leave her impress 
upon the taste of the century. We can also realize 
that woman must have exercised no small influence 
upon Venetian art, as did in France at the same 
period, Mme. de S6vigne, Madame Recamier, 
Mesdames de Pompadour, de Montespan, de Main- 
tenon, and many others. Art indeed reflects the 
refined Venetian life, full of love without ardour, of 
wishes without fervour, of voluptuousness without 
desire. Even the country had lost its simple 
beauty, the shrubs were cut and clipped, arranged in 
patterns, and the landscape adapted by the hand of 


man became a frame well suited to the elegance of 
the 18th century. In the towns of Terraglio, 
Brenta, and Friuli, we seem still to hear the echo 
of the feasts celebrated in honour of the alliance 
between Nature and Art. Longhi became the 
courtier, the poet, the historian, and the chronicler 
of that life which pleased the eye without touching 
the heart. Was he not endowed with all the graces 
and the intellectual defects of his time ? The figures 
in his pictures are surrounded by a cloud of pale 
Hght, enchanting forms, which seem to draw some 
sweet melody from the spinet, or re-echo, amidst 
the hum of conversation, the laughter of other days. 
Women must have acquired a commanding power 
amidst this worship of refinement, for had they not 
the advantage over man in their beauty ? 

Manners and customs are transformed, solemn 
pomp makes way for a certain graceful lightness. 
A French writer of the 18th century relates upon 
this point a curious anecdote. The daughters of 
the Doge Domenico Contarini, at the end of the 
17th century, were the first Venetian ladies who 
laid aside the use of the high zoccoli. ^^ II y a grande 
ajpjparence,^^ says the foreign writer, satirically, " que 
la politique des maris avai't introduit un jpareil usage, 
dont on dit qu'ils se trouvaient fort Men J' And, in- 
deed, an ambassador, talking one day with the Doge 
and the Councillors about the immensely high 
wooden heels used by the Venetian ladies, praised 
both noble ladies Contarini for having preferred 


low heels, as so much more convenient. " Only 
too convenient," exclaimed one of the Councillors, 
angrily ; he was no doubt a married man. In fact, 
from that time woman descends from her pedestal, 
losing little by little her air of rigid and constrained 
ceremony; she mingles in the crowd, runs to the 
churches, theatres, and casinos; laughs gaily and 
musically, enjoys the present, and is confident in 
the future. The elegant, brilliant, joyous, and 
energetic women of this period differ totally in dis- 
position, thoughts, and customs, from the grave 
and majestic Venetian ladies of the preceding cen- 
turies ; they begin a life of foolish imprudences, of 
intoxicating sensations, of desires, licentiousness, 
excitement, surrounded by courtesies and flatteries, 
occupied in visits and conversation, amidst the 
fluttering of plumes and laces. 

Woman practices the arts of seduction, poses 
with langour and abandon, walks with cat-like 
movements ; there is a delightful coquetry in her 
smile and look. " Les femmes sont plus belles ici 
qu'en aucun autre endroit^^^ writes the witty Presi- 
dent de Brosses. And nobody could better than a 
woman understand and reproduce this new female 
type. Rosalba Carriera, born at Chioggia, a land 
of poor fishermen, understood all the Venetian 
elegance ; not beautiful herself, she knew vastly 
well how to portray the beauties of her day. Her 
coloured crayon-drawings, softly illuminated by a 
roseate hue, attract the mind towards the records 


of the past. The women by Rosalba still remain in 
the spring-time of their beauty; some are blessed 
with an expansive happiness, with their faces framed 
in brown silk, and their hair powdered, with a 
smooth brow, and a bosom full, scarcely concealed 
by gauze ; others, pensive, with dreamy, melancholy 
eyes, with a quiet smile, caused by some pleasant 
thought. The coloured crayons rival the brush, 
and in those flower-like and satin tints we see the 
velvety sheen of the skin and the pulsation of life. 
The great charm of these gentle little ladies, all 
ribbons, laces, and plumes, is that of elegance and 
beauty. However, all the Venetian ladies did not 
spend their lives in love and smiles. Possessing 
elegant and versatile minds, they knew also how to 
enjoy the pleasures of imagination. Then begins 
their reign in conversation. They rule with spirit, 
sense, and by their beauty, at those meetings, agi- 
tated by lively, agreeable, gay, and passionate con- 
troversies, where a thousand ideas on art, literature, 
and politics are discussed. Let it be understood, 
however, that political intrigue, those vigorous 
aspirations after civil reform, those desires for 
fortune and glory, which agitated the French 
salons in the previous century, did not disturb the 
Venetian ladies, who took no part in public events, 
and contented themselves at most with the tittle- 
tattle of Government antechambers. We see, for 
instance, what Lorenzo da Ponte wrote in his 
memoirs, when, in 1777, after his famous trial with 


the Eeformers of the Paduan school, he entered the 
home of Georgio Pisani and scattered through 
Venice his satires against the Senate. Probably 
the same Pisani, a parody of Mirabeau, found com- 
pensation for his demagogical bursts of anger in the 
smile of some beautiful patrician lady. But even 
the wife of the Procurator of St. Mark, Catherine 
Dolfino Trono, had no true political influence, 
although she possessed great discernment, 
united to uncommon strength of mind. The 
power of woman over the rulers of the State 
was limited to performing some little act of 
revenge, making some threat, and dispensing 
some favour. Thus Maria Querini, wife of 
the Knight Peter Correre, Ambassador at Vienna 
in 1756, obtained by her finesse the post of City 
Magistrate at Constantinople for her husband, and 
the wife of Andrea Cappello, Governor of Brescia, 
managed to induce the Avogadore Angelo Querini 
to banish from Venice a milliner who had dared to 
enter into dispute with the incensed patrician 
lady. But yet justice spoke more loudly than even 
feminine charms, and the Inquisitors recalled with- 
out delay the milliner, and declared " that she 
might go about freely, remain and return as it 
suited her, even walk about and show herself in 
pubhc places." Amidst arch witticisms, the merry 
Venetian ladies left to the men the cares of State ; 
nor did these merry and idle dames lose their light- 
heartedness in diplomatic subterfuges. 


Even at Isabella Albrizzi's conversazione, 
political discussions were rarely heard, in that 
drawing-room where the art of conversation 
reached the highest state of perfection, and where, 
before the fall of the Republic, there came, besides 
many others, Hippolyte Pindemonte, who declaimed 
his own verses, his large melancholy eyes gazing 
the while into those of clever Isabella, and Melchior 
Cesarotti, courteous to women, affable to men, and 
flattered by all. If the disquisitions of those 
learned men caused a shade of weariness to pass 
over the faces of the beautiful patrician ladies, the 
smile of Marina Benzon, in the freshness of youth 
and beauty, would suffice to revive cheerfulness. 
Political intrigue could find no place amidst these 
pleasures of the mind, and somebody to whom the 
fatal idea occurred of originating intrigues between 
foreign ambassadors and some patrician ladies did 
not receive a decided negative, but were sent to 
meditate in the Piombi on the patriotism of Vene- 
tian women. Probably the love of peace exceeded 
in them the love of country. They wished their 
lives to be joyous, free from annoyances and cares, 
and Mme. du Boccage was astonished at the 
liberty enjoyed by Venetian ladies in the 18th cen- 
tury, each of whom had a little apartment of her 
own out of the house called Casino; the husband 
had a similar one for himself, and each received 
friends there. The ladies went, each accompanied 
by her own cavaliere servente, who protected her 


reputation better than her husband. And then the 
Inquisitors of State occupied themselves in a 
paternal way with superintending public morality, 
and watched with suspicious eyes over the casinos, 
and over these meetings styled later by hypocritical 
virtue dens of corruption, in which dissoluteness 
reigned under the name of gentility ; effrontery was 
called urbanity ; vice, merriment ; effeminacy, 
diversion. Prohibitions were showered thickly, 
crossing each other on all sides, but were useless, 
since the patrician assemblies continued in spite 
of the Inquisitors. Thus on April 16th, 1747, the 
tribunal resolved to have the casino at Guidecca 
stripped and closed ; it was the property of a 
patrician lady, Catherine Sagredo Barbarigo, who 
also kept saddle-horses there. Notwithstanding 
the known prohibition, a noble lady, Marina 
Sagredo Pisani, took an apartment on the Bridge 
dei Forali to establish a casino there, and on the 
11th of November, 1751, the Inquisitors ordered it 
to be closed. Another time, Cecilia Priuli Yal- 
marana, at one of her soirees in the Hall of 
Spirone, fell into a passion with a patrician, and 
screamed in his face some very abusive words. 
The casino was closed on July 17th, 1756. The 
decrees continued, and the Patrician ladies went on 
laughing, chattering, and gambling in the casinos. 
Public proclamations were of little avail against 
the extravagances of dress. The patrician ladies 
appeared in the theatres clad in the most indecent 


manner, and on December 23rd, 1776, a decree was 
issued forbidding ladies to appear at the theatre 
except in masks, cloaks, silk mantles and modest 
garments. Shortly after, Elizabeth Labia Priuli 
and Maria Bon Todarini were condemned to remain 
at home several days for having gone to the theatre 
with their silk mantles thrown off their shoulders, 
and later Julia Tron was similarly punished for 
having appeared unmasked at the Theatre of St. 
Luke. And the penalties poured in together with 
the accusations of the porters of the theatres. The 
Inquisitors, jealous of the honour and propriety of 
the patrician character, did not overlook the most 
minute particulars, and prohibited, for instance, 
some performances that a company of patrician 
amateur actors wanted to give in the theatre at 
Castelfranco. They objected to people of note 
of the patrician class appearing on the stage, 
and being subjected to the gibes and derision 
of the spectators ! But many worse evils 
crept in amongst the enervated members of the 
ancient city, and the Inquisitors who gazed inquir- 
ingly into the secrets of alcoves, and stormed loudly, 
endeavouring, with resolute determination, to restore 
morality in families, proved how true it is that a 
nation's greatness is on the wane when virtue no 
longer arises spontaneously by the domestic hearth, 
and vice is no longer checked by conscientious 
scruples. It is interesting to note how the tribunal 
seeks to console the afflicted, to punish the guilty. 


and to encourage repentance. That strange type of 
woman, Madaluzza Contarini Gradenigo, led her 
husband, and even the magistrates, a nice life. 
The tribunal having been appealed to respecting 
the noble lady Madaluzza, wife of Charles Gradenigo, 
Captain aud Governor of Yerona, not only regard- 
ing her private behaviour with inferiors and sub- 
jects, but also concerning her strange ways with 
foreigners, she was transported on September 14th, 
1755, to Venice, and was enjoined not to leave her 
house until she had received further orders, and 
then to go into the country. Nine years later, we 
again find the name of Madaluzza in a note of the 
Archbishop of Udine's, informing the tribunal that 
Madaluzza Gradenigo lived in Gorizia with Colonel 
Arneh, with whom she afterwards went to Udine, 
where she gaily passed her time amidst banquets, 
feasts, and rioting. When she was left a widow 
Madaluzza married again, strange to relate, another 
Gradenigo, called Bortolo, Ambassador to France. 
But on February 1st, 1765, she was forbidden to 
join her husband in Paris ; and seven years later 
she was prevented going to Vienna, where her 
husband was named Ambassador. These arrange- 
ments displeased Gradenigo, who had not married 
her to leave her in Yenice, and when he was made 
magistrate at Constantinople he gave directions to 
Madaluzza, and provided her with money, and she 
left the Lagoons secretly, and went to the shores of 
the Bosphorus, hoping to be forgotten at such a dia- 


tance. But the Inquisitors possessed tenacious 
memories and long sight, and considering the dire 
consequences which might arise from the caprices 
and violence of an imprudent woman, especially at 
a Court and with a nation like the Turks, ordered, 
on July 31st, 1775, that Gradenigo should send his 
wife back to Venice. The unfortunate husband 
replied that he was ready to obey, but that he hoped 
to be forgiven if, owing to unavoidable circum- 
stances, such as the serious ailments from which 
his wife suffered, and the approaching winter 
weather, some delay occurred. The severe season 
passed away, and as Madaluzza did not appear, the 
tribunal, out of patience, condemned her to three 
months' banishment into the country. She was 
forced to obey, and on July 13th, 1779, Madaluzza 
arrived in the Republican States, and was relegated 
to one of her houses in Este. Another Ambassa- 
dor, called Sebastiano Foscarini, seemed anxious to 
rid himself of his wife, since before leaving for 
Vienna he declared to the Inquisitors that he feared 
being exposed to diflficulties and dangers if his wife 
went with him on his embassy. And the tribunal, 
without more ado, forbade the lady to follow the 
Ambassador. The noble desire to maintain the 
dignity of the State in foreign countries caused this 
excessive severity. They were not only anxious 
concerning the dignity of rulers, but also respect- 
ing the honour of private individuals, and we read 
of their interposition in conjugal affairs, punishing 


wives' infidelity, and bitterly reproaching weak 
husbands, as when, for instance, they summoned 
Domenico Michiele, husband of Cornelia Da Lezze, 
and reproved him severely for his stupidity respect- 
ing his wife. Alas ! disturbances and scandals are 
not cured by confining to the house, for a few days, 
ladies too easy in their morals, and too free with 
their tongues. In a decree of March 5tb, 1774, it 
was gravely said : " A free and easy behaviour, re- 
prehensible in any woman, is intolerable in a patri- 
cian lady, who also, by her outward behaviour, 
ought to set an example of a wise and modest dis- 
position ! " Very vain admonitions for those who 
wished to drown in pleasure any fear of future ruin. 
And who cared for the reproofs of Angelo Maria 
Barbaro, the priest, who in his verses advised the 
Governors to keep woman, the cause of ruin to the 
State and country, under lock and key? Carlo 
Goldoni extolled with rhymed compliments the 
beautiful patrician ladies ; Mazzola wrote cinque- 
cento sonnets, full of grace, perhaps too adulatory, 
on the fair hair of his Nina ; wit sparkled in Pasto's 
verses, and the muses repeated Lamberti's little 
songs in the harmonious calm of Venetian nights, 

when — 

Proprio un azzal xe el cielo, 
Un spechio el mar tranquilo, 
L'aria no move un filo 
Xe modera el calor. 

It is right to repeat that the laxity of morals in 
that century was not greater at Venice than in 


other countries. In the splendid palaces, within 
walls hung with gilded leather and tapestry, were 
to be found virtues, tears, and secret anxieties. 
Let us quit the joyous parties, the licentious com- 
pany, the young ladies, rich in charms and flirta- 
tions, witty and capricious. Even in those days of 
corrupt decrepitude, the first patrician lady occupy- 
ing the dwelling of the Doges in Venice must 
arouse our respect. 


The Dogaressas Laura Cornaro and Pisana Mocenigo 
— The Family of the Doge Mocenigo. 

Giovanni Coenaro, who was elected Doge in 1709, 
had for wife Laura Cornaro. The political dis- 
turbances in Europe which agitated Cornaro's 
reign, and the pomp in the Eoyal Palace seem to 
have occasioned this Dogaressa to feel a profound 
disgust for mundane affairs, for, after the death of 
her husband in 1722, she gave herself up to a reli- 
gious life in the monastery of the Hermit Augustan 
nuns at Sts. Gervasio and Protasio. In that vast 
and gloomy building, situated in one of the most 
solitary regions of the city, Laura spent the last 
years of her life in prayer. She received now and 
then her three sons, Francesco, Nicolo, and Alvise, 
besides a few relations, in her little parlour, a little 
room contiguous to her cell, with a small window 
protected by iron bars. She died in May, 1729. 


The inventory of ready money, gold and silver, and 
other things belonging by right to her late Serene 
Highness, written in the presence of the very 
reverend mother, Sister Maria Lucia, prioress of 
the monastery, brings us once again into the 
Dogaressa's miserable room, which was filled with 
objects recalling past splendours. In that retire- 
ment, where all breathed forth a melancholy renun- 
ciation of the world, those relics of former grandeur 
must have created a strange contrast. One thousand 
six hundred and ninety-four zecchini were found in 
one purse, and in a smaller one 104 ducats, besides 
crosses, reliquaries, small pestles and mortars, salvers, 
candlesticks, foot- warmers, basins, plate, flagons, 
vases, medals, thimbles, boxes, trays, inkstands, all of 
silver. And in a small box several trifles in filigree, 
gold medals, and various other trinkets, enclosed in 
crystal boxes with lock and key. A pair of buckles 
for bracelets, studded with diamonds, two necklaces 
one of large turquoises and the other of agates, 
mounted in gold, with ear-rings to match, and five 
gold rings with diamonds and turquoises. There 
were besides, the bed and bedding on which her 
^^erene Highness slept, and the quilts of silk and 
gold cloth, adorned with lace, or worked in the 
Eastern style with fringe, or in the Chinese style 
with blue and yellow silk. Lastly, garments of 
crimson cloth with gold, skirts of red silk with 
silver aprons, &c., &c. But the counterpanes were 


rotten — so says the inventory — and the garments 
old and torn. The pomps of the world resounded 
not to the ears of Laura Cornaro in the convent of 
the Hermits. What had she, the pious Dogaressa, 
to do with the world ? Only over her bier did 
worldly show send forth a dying ray, for the 
funeral expenses amounted to 15,831 lire. 

Another lady native of Pisa, Corner di Federico, 
was married on October 5th, 1739, to Giovanni 
Alvise Mocenigo, procurator of St. Mark, after- 
wards elected Doge in 1763. By examining, one 
by one, some bills of the clothes and furniture 
bought on the occasion of such nuptials, we shall 
have an idea of the luxury of a Venetian patrician 
lady. The brocades and silk damasks of the beauti- 
ful bride have long since turned to rags and dust, 
the brilliancy of the satins and the sheen of the 
gold have disappeared, yet the pale reflection of 
these mouldy papers, which set forth the customs, 
both national and domestic, of a past century, still 
shines upon us. Paolina Badoer Mocenigo, the 
bride's mother-in-law, presided over the arrange- 
ments with dignified taste. In a Milanese account 
of August 4th, 1789, the Princess Trivulzio bought 
for Mocenigo from Gruiseppe Lucino, a silk mer- 
chant in the Piazza del Duomo, 26 braccia (cubits) 
of French gold and silver brocade, and spent 3,800 
Venetian pounds. The Princess then purchased 
from another merchant materials of silk, gold, and 



silver on a crimson, sky-blue, and grey ground, and 
spent 16,055 Yenetian pounds. Here is a bill of 
things bought in Paris : — 


For a very fine mantle 



... ••• ••• 


For tippet, muff, bodice, and knots, of 

gold thread upon a 

white flowered satin, for sleeves ... 

••. ... ••• 


Another complete set as above, in gold 


Ditto, in gold thread 

... ... ... 


Two more in silver ... 

,,, ,,, ... 


A kerchief and cape in blonde 




UlXiVO ... ... ... ,,, .,, 

Two hoods with blonde trimming ... 

Ribbons, veils, velvet and silk flowers 

... ... ... 


Custom-house, carriage, and packing 



Fr. 1,867 

And they obtained from Antwerp for her Excel- 
lency the bride, caps, hoods, and the finest linen, 
spending 6,354 Yenetian pounds. There exists a 
bill dated July, in which Madame Teresa Yianelli 
agreed to sell for 660 ducats a set of point lace, 
consisting of a cap, of nine ells of lace for hanging 
sleeves, three for a dress, and seven for chemisette 
and stomacher. 

There is a large account from the embroiderer, to 
the value of 1,353 lire. Skirts of silver and silk, 
another rose colour, a black cloak, a rose-coloured 
dress, a satin corset and petticoat, and a camlet 
cloak, all adorned with embroidery ; some pairs of 
gloves and slippers, embroidered in gold and silver. 
We note down a curious furrier's bill : — 


Venice, 17th of August, 1739. 
Her Excell. Paulina Badoero Mocenigo di S. Stae., D.D. 
For four sldns of black fox, made up. 

Making up muff and cape of the backs of the silver fox, 110 
zeechini (an Italian coin worth nearly ten shillings). 

For two sable skins made into a muff and cape, 106 zeechini. 
For a muff and cape made of lynx, 30 zeechini. 
Total, 5,412 zeechini. 

Some objects for the toilet, such as the frame of 
a mirror, a basin, a kettle, two candelabra, four 
little trays, two candlesticks, a spittoon, &c., cost 
4,061 lire. On examining other memoranda we 
find an English gold watch, made to strike, with 
gold chain and seals, cost 150 zeechini; 36 pairs 
of women's long gloves and nine pairs of short cost 
112 lire, and seven pairs of beaver gloves 33 lire; 
four embroidered cloths to cover a small table at 
which ladies stand to dress themselves, 176 lire; a 
collar and stomacher, embroidered in gold, 154 lire; 
a neck-handkerchief in silver, 55 lire; a few hand- 
kerchiefs embroidered in gold, 121 lire each. 
Similar other less important accounts follow of 
stuffs, furs, linen, laces, cloth, velvet, ribbons, of 
brocades, girdles, buttons, gold and silver fringes, 
shoe buckles, camlets, gloves, fans, shoes, combs of 
ivory and tortoise-shell, &c. 

We have carefully summed up the value of the 
above objects, which comes to 37,258 lire, and it 
will be noticed that there is no mention of jewels. 

Twenty years later Pisana Corner Mocenigo 
became Dogaressa. 


A few important corrections were introduced 
into Mocenigo's Promissione respecting his wife. 
According to ancient custom, she could only leave 
the Palace veiled and properly escorted, and the 
prohibitions were brought again into force respect- 
ing gifts and fiefs. The Great Council (16th of 
April, 1763) three days before Mocenigo's election 
had decided that peculiar honours should be 
accorded to the Dogaressa. " The wisdom which 
caused our ancestors to assign great honour and 
privileges to the Serene Prince, induced them 
further to render him homage in the person of the 
Dogaressa. And, in fact, if the Dogaressa, owing 
to the prohibitory decree of 1700, did not wear the 
Ducal cap, still she was received in the Palace with 
much ceremony. Whilst the High Chancellor an- 
nounced his election to Mocenigo, the Signory sent 
the Secretary of the Senate, Cesare Vignola, to 
the Dogaressa, and he, in the name of the people, 
made the following speech to the lady : — " Serene 
Princess, — To his Serene Higness, the Prince Con- 
sort, his glorious elevation to the supreme dignity 
in the Eepublic is at present being announced, and 
upon me devolves, by express command of the 
Signory, the privilege of imparting to you the 
joyful news. All have long known the virtues and 
noble qualities which adorn your illustrious husband, 
and people foresaw his election to the Ducal throne, 
and now that it has come to pass, joyous acclama- 
tions resound on all sides. But you also, serene 


lady, have by your rare gifts excited the admiration 
of all Italy, and you have always set a noble 
example of virtue and piety, which has influenced 
your children and made them what they are," &c., 

In the afternoon Pisana Mocenigo, accompanied 
by the two Procurators of St. Mark and fifteen 
patricians, and followed along the Grand Canal by a 
procession of gondolas and boats, betook herself 
publicly to the Palace, and received in the Hall of 
Audience the congratulations of the electors of the 
Doge and of all the nobility. The festival lasted 
three days. The Dogaressa, clad in her richest 
costume, opened the ball in the Palace, and was ac- 
companied by the Princess Faustina Rezzonico, the 
Pope's niece, by the wives and daughters of the 
ambassadors, and by other Venetian and foreign 

The poets of course praised the new Dogaressa. 
We quote here a sonnet printed in honour of Her 
Most Serene Highness the Dogaressa at the corona- 
tion of the Doge of Venice, Alvise Mocenigo IV. 
We find at the top of the page the coats of arms, 
surrounded by Fame, and by several little cherubs 
with branches of laurel and oak, boldly sketched 
with that good decorative taste peculiar to that 
epoch. The poet N. B. writes — 

Non le Reine su la cipria sponda 
Del Cornar gorme gloriosa e forte 
Donna a veder t'invita oggi la sorte 
Che il sangue in te, che la virtu seconda ; 


Ma le patrie Corone, oud' e feconda 

La Mocenica stirpe, in un risorte 

Nuovo Luigi tuo real consorte, 

Che a r Adria orna de se la terra e I'onda, &c., &c. 

We must say that the Court poets were never 
happily inspired, even vt^hen they sang in praise of 
the Eepublican Princes ! The poet was sincere 
when he said to the Princess : " Hai nel gran lume i 
cari jigli intenii^^ for Pisana was not only a virtu- 
ous spouse, but an excellent mother. The care and 
thought bestowed twenty-four years before by 
Paolina Badoer Mocenigo upon the arrangement of 
her daughter-in-law's trousseau were emulated by 
Pisana when her eldest son married in 1766 Fran- 
cesca Grimani. On the occasion of that wedding 
456,487 Venetian pounds were spent. The bride 
was handsome and very young. The daugh- 
ter of Marcantonio Grimani, eldest son of Doge 
Peter, who had governed the State from 1741 to 
1752, she re-entered as a feted bride that same 
Palace where she had been born sixteen years 

The poets sang in her honour — 

I bei consigli e le parole accorte 

E gli atti onesti e santi, e quel ch' i' vidi 

Studio ed ardor, e la mirabil arte 

Che tante in lei ritrar virtuti valse 

In sul fiorir degli anni, quante mai 

Non furon viste a piu matura elate. 

The nobleman Thomas Joseph Farsetti, one of 
the most noted of the Granelleschi, addressed to 


Cecilia Moceiiigo, the bridegroom's aunt, abbess of 
the Monastery of St. Martin in Mufano, a sermon 
in which are described the good old domestic cus- 
toms of the wife's family, in which existed respect 
for true virtue. In the face of the bride Farsetti 
he saw — 

II modesto rossa che saro tinge 
A moderna fauciulla il yolto omai. 

And who taught you, child, the value of goodness 
and courtesy, and to treasure up pure thoughts ? 

La madre tua che h casalinga e buona 
E non punto ciarliera. 

Francesca became the brightest ornament of the 
house of Mocenigo, into which she passed from the 
family of Grimani. 

Magnanima e gen til, di Doge nnora 
E di Doge Nipote, in quella stanza 
Ove nacque fia madre, 

the poet wrote, and the simple prediction had been 
realized, and it seemed as if happiness were to smile 
once more upon the Doge's Palace. But misfortune 
fell upon them like a fierce thunderbolt. Soon after 
having tasted the joys of maternity Francesca fell 
accidentally into the fire, and died amidst the most 
horrible suffering. The shocking catastrophe ren- 
dered the Dogaressa still more averse to noisy 
festivities. Besides, Pisana Mocenigo was of a 
retiring nature, and abhorred all pomp. In the 
translator s preface to a work " On the Character, 
Customs, and Female Mind," by the French acade- 


mician Thomas, we find these words : " Let us 
mention a Venetian matron who was really wise, 
pious, and gifted with dignity as well as excellent 
qualities. She was not old when, to everyone's 
regret, she passed away into eternal peace. People 
will at once perceive that I am alluding to Pisana 
Cornaro Mocenigo, whose nobleness of character, 
piety, and learning were unrivalled, and besides 
amusing herself with astronomical observations and 
natural history, took a singular pleasure in the study 
of anatomy, in which she made such great progress 
that she excited the admiration of the illustrious 
Frotomedico Santorini, and also of the immortal 
Giambattista Morgagni, prince of the anatomists of 
our time. We have scattered these few flowers on 
the tomb of the late renowned Dogaressa, although 
her happy spirit is sufficiently requited by the 
tribute of tears and constant regret offered to her 
memory by her loving husband, H. Serene H. Alvise 
Mocenigo.'* We do not know for certain if the 
Dogaressa Mocenigo was really so learned, but 
when reading some of her letters to the stewards in 
the country, in which she entered into the most 
minute particulars, we are induced to look upon 
her more as a good and conscientious housewife 
than as a scientific lady. Pisana spent the best 
time of the year in a magnificent villa not far from 
Ceneda, in the Cordiguano mountains. Marble 
busts of the seven Mocenigo Doges, besides that of 
the Dogaressa Loredana Marcello Mocenigo, were 


to be found amidst fanciful plaster casts in a gallery 
on the ground floor. But neither the pomp of the 
town nor the luxuries of the villa affected the mind 
of Pisana, who never assumed the airs of a Prin- 
cess, but remained unpretending and affectionate. 

Scarcely had the news of the election of Mocenigo, 
in 1763, reached the ears of the inhabitants of Cor- 
dignano and the neighbourhood, than they resolved 
to receive the Doge and Dogaressa with all due 
honour on their arrival in the country. *' The 
gentlemen of San Cassano (Cordignano) are anxious 
to go out and welcome your Highnesses at Cone- 
gliano, and desire to have the guns fired and the 
bells rung when your Highnesses pass through the 

Thus wrote the steward to the Doge's chaplain. 
But we can understand, however, that the noise did 
not suit their Serene Highnesses, for the chaplain 
replied at once that, as for what concerned the 
meeting, the Doge appeared very pleased, but the 
firing of guns must be prevented, as sure to dis- 
please their Highnesses, and probably frighten the 
horses. Prudence is never superfluous. The 
Dogaressa could carry out that economy in the 
management of her household which was im- 
possible in town. We will quote an example of the 
strange inconsistency which often occurred amongst 
the Venetian aristocracy accustomed as they were to 
squander their money without any thought when 
vanity required it, and to be quite parsimonious 


about small expenses. In 1765 Pisana stood god- 
mother to the daughter of the Governor of her 
Manor of Cordignano. The chaplain wrote on the 
occasion to the Governor to say that he must be 
satisfied with the high honour done him, without 
expecting any present for his child, as the 
Dogaressa was not disposed to make her one. The 
great expenditure made by noble families arose 
more from the exigencies of that time, from ex- 
ternal pomp and from the conditions of the State, 
than from the thoughtless extravagance of the 
Venetian patricians, who were not by nature in- 
clined to generosity. 

Pisana Corner Mocenigo died on March 10th, 
1769. The Ducal chaplain thus describes the par- 
ticulars of the death and funeral to the steward of 
Cordignano : 

"Her S.H., our mistress, reduced by a long and 
painful malady, was attacked about ten o'clock by a 
violent spasm in her chest, and died. . . . On Monday 
(72 hours after she expired) her obsequies were 
performed with as great pomp as could be desired. 
The face of our late noble mistress remained for 
three days as fresh and ruddy as if she had fallen 
into a sweet sleep, which we sincerely hope may be 
the case, owing to her many Christian virtues and 
her great charity towards the poor, many of whom 
are left entirely destitute by her death. . . . His 
Serene Highness and their Excellencies the gentle- 
men landlords have decided to present to this 


Church of San Cassano (Cordignaao) one of Her 
Serene Highness's gold mantles, to be made into 
vestments to be used at solemn festivals for the 
officiating priest and his two attendants." 

The death of Pisana Mocenigo is mentioned in the 
Rituals, and it is said that her funeral, ordered by 
the family in the Church of St. Mark and in that 
of Santi Giovanni e Paolo, was suitable to the 
Princess's rank. The body was buried in the 
temple of Santi Giovanni e Paolo. A list of ex- 
penses incurred for the funeral of her late Most 
Serene Highness shows us a total of 30,000 lire. 
Such were the vainglorious expenses which ruined 

Alvise Mocenigo survived his wife nine years and 
saw another young girl enter his family, who to 
immense wealth joined great goodness of heart. 
In 1771 Polixena di Giulio Contarini Da Mula gave 
her hand in marriage to Alvise Mocenigo, widower 
of Francesca Grimani. The hymns of the Muses 
and the sincere blessings of the poor often arose in 
honour of Polixena Mocenigo. One declared her 
worthy to have lived in those times when queens 
were chosen from amongst the patrician ladies. 
Somebody else addressed these lines to her — 

L'alme tue glorie echeggiano, 
Eccelsa Polissena. 

Another called her — 

Grave insieme e gentil, bellae modesta ; 


And lastly others said — 

Donna grande a cui I'Adriatica Teti, 
Non ch'io, tra le sue niufe eguel non vanta. 

Polixena also passed some months of the year in 
the villa once dear to the Dogaressa Pisana, where 
time was spent pleasantly, and where that same 
Carlo Gozzi did not disdain to prepare comic plays 
in the little theatre of the Palace. These inedited 
letters reveal strange details concerning the habits 
of patrician families and Charles's irascible temper. 
The letter dated from Yicinale, November 4th ^ 
1780, is directed to Yenice, to a Signore Raffaelo 
Todeschini. Gozzi writes — 

" Last evening I arrived at the Villa Mocenigo, at 
Belvedere, with my brother. I was to spend six 
days surrounded by beautiful scenery and courteous 
and gentle manners, with a lady and gentleman, 
who by their perfections put to shame many of their 
equals on the shores of the Adriatic. I thought I 
should only remain there three days, and that I 
should find all ready for the rehearsal. Signora 
Vinanti, that is to say Marietta, the actress, never 
came ; she was at Tisana, and the play could not 
take place. I was allowed to depart, and arrived 
at Pordenone; I found that Signora Yinanti had 
passed through that place to go to Belvedere. I 
pretended not to know it, and returned home I " 




Life passed gaily in the Doge's family, surrounded 
by the paintings of Titian and Paul Veronese, the 
chimney-pieces sculptured by Lombardo, and 
amidst velvets and brocades. The Dogaressa, hold- 
ing the highest position amongst the Venetian ladies 
of rank, knew also how to excel all Venetian 
women by her goodness and active piety, piety of 
word and thought, of action and intention. When 
arrived at that age which no longer charms, the 
Dogaressa presents to the last a gentle and melan- 
choly aspect. Even in later times, when corruption 
and licentiousness prevailed, it was still considered 
necessary that respect should surround the first 
lady of the Republic, and they still wished that the 
regal dignity of the Doge's consort should add to 
the nobility of the woman. There is no doubt, for 
instance, that Andrea Tron, a man of strong mind, 



and so powerful as to be called el paron^ was not 
allowed to become Doge on account of tbe scandal 
caused by bis wife in the Gratarol affair. The ad- 
ventures of the Secretary Gratarol are mentioned 
with plenty of details in Carlo Gozzi's representa- 
tion of the Droghe d* amove as well as the dis- 
turbances that occurred, and the part Caterina 
Dolfin Tron took in the riot. She was beautiful, 
and Carlo Gozzi praises the roses and lilies in her 
face, and her golden hair. She was kind, and 
assisted Gasparo Gozzi, whose good fortune did not 
equal his desert. Caterina was full of genius and 
culture, and not only was she admired for her 
brilliant conversation, but also for her graceful 
poetry and prose. And yet with all these gifts 
Caterina thwarted her husband's ambitious desires 
of becoming Doge. And he had besides to bear 
bitter ridicule, such as is evinced in the following 
impudent distich — 

Tronus Eques, sapiens, nunc Procurator, at illi, 
Si diadema negat patria, sponsa dabit. 

But if scandal could not enter boldly through the 
principal gate of the Palace, it managed to pene- 
trate there clandestinely by a secret staircase. Paul 
Renier was elected in 1779 instead of Tron. He 
was a great statesman, but his heart did not equal 
his head. This Doge was most enthusiastic in all 
that concerned the glory of Venice, seeking to 
govern men by fear rather than by kindness. Even 
the State Inquisitors could not lower his pride. He 


was disliked by his contemporaries, and nobody 
mourned his death. " He was detested by all, espe- 
cially on account of his meanness; he even sold 
offices in the Church of St. Mark ! " wrote a con- 
temporary; and another, speaking of the Doge's 
death : " He amassed money to enrich a handsome 
but vulgar woman he had known in Constantinople. 
She was formerly a rope-dancer, called Margaret, 
and it is generally supposed that he was married to 
her." By such an alliance he lowered his dignity 
as a man and patrician. His first wife had been 
Giustina Dona, who died June 16th, 1731, and was 
buried in the Church of Saint Antonio, in Padua. 
The inscription, which is a true one, says : — 

Justinse uxori castissimae 
Ex principali Donatorum familia 
In medio Artatis cursu 
Annuo Morbo absumptae 
Paulus Kainerius 
Maritus infeliciss. 
Ex actis cum ea annis xviii 
Sine ulla querela 
M. P. 


Obiit XVII. Cal. quint. 

00 DCCLI. 

But the sacred memory of this lady, his affection 
for his son Andrea, the dignity of his name, his 
great ambition, could not overcome Paul Eenier's 
love for the rope-dancer, Margaret Dalmaz. If 
Caterina Tron's gay conduct deprived the Procu- 
rator Andrea of all hope respecting the Ducal cap, 


how much more must public decorum have been 
outraged when a rope-dancer was on the point of 
occupying the place so worthily filled by many 
gentle and modest ladies, who, without possessing 
much intellect, never derogated from the dignity of 
their position. But Renier had married her secretly, 
and the Republic was not bound to acknowledge the 
new Dogaressa, who could not even be inscribed in 
the Golden Book. Thus appearances were saved. 
And besides, the money so profusely spent by 
Eenier overcame every doubt, and caused those 
dishonourable arrangements called convenient trans- 
actions to be tolerated at a time when the only 
virtue really appreciated was self-interest. The 
following quotation will show what Guiseppe Gra- 
denigo, Secretary of State, thought of Renier's 
election : — 

" At noon on Friday his Serene Excellency Paolo 
Renier's election was declared. The newly-made 
prince must have spent much money. He has pur- 
chased the balle for more than fifteen zecchini each, 
and of these there are about three hundred. He 
started with the idea that it would be an easy 
matter, but whilst engaged in it he heard himself 
called a traitor to his country, deceitful, and 
married to a plebeian woman of bad character, 
formerly a rope-dancer — words which seemed to 
resound on all sides, and undoubtedly excited the 
people against him. . . . He was obliged to make a 
virtue of necessity, and to draw out a large number 


of those 90,000 zecchini that he is supposed to have 
made at Constantinople, in order to stop people's 
mouths. And in the end the public was fully satisfied. 
During three days' feasting in the Palace, money,- 
bread, and wine were profusely distributed, and 
produced loud hurrahs and acclamations." Crude 
and exaggerated words, but yet not altogether false. 
Margherita adapted herself quietly to her new con- 
dition. Although Margherita did not appear at the 
public ceremonies, where the Dogaressa's presence 
was deemed necessary, and her place beside the 
Doge was occupied by his niece, Giustina Renier, 
the young wife of Marcantonio Michiel, yet all 
within and without the Palace called the quondam 
rope-dancer " Dogaressa " ; and under this title she 
went in 1786 to Yaldagno to recruit her health in 
the Alpine air and to take the celebrated waters of 
Eecoaro. That same Doge, who could not write or 
sign his own private letters, sent this warm letter of 
recommendation to Doctor Girolamo Festari at Yal- 
dagno, Medical Inspector of the Eecoaro springs : — 

"Padua, June 22nd, 1786. 


" Although the Doge cannot write or 
sign his private letters, nevertheless, good-feeling 
striking upon the writer s mind, operates in so im- 
perious a manner that he feels compelled to express 
to Signer Festari his sincere thanks for the trouble he 
took to find a convenient dwelling for his wife and 


likely to please her, whom he confides especially to. 
his care. She will leave here next Monday, and 
will perform the journey as rapidly as her health 
will permit. When my wife arrives in Yaldagno 
she will confer with Signer Festari respecting those 
other questions of household arrangements men- 
tioned in his letter. Meanwhile, his Serene High- 
ness repeats his sincere expressions of gratitude 
towards the worthy Doctor, and reiterates his warm 
requests that he will afford every assistance to his 

The lady had a lodging in Valdagno in the 
Forestiera of the Capuchin nuns. 

Goethe speaks of this counterfeit Dogaressa, 
when in 1786 he visited the " wonderful city sur- 
rounded by the sea." He relates that he assisted 
on October 3rd at a trial, held publicly in the 
Ducal Palace. On one side sat the judges, with the 
advocates opposite, and the opposing parties were 
placed upon a bench in front of the judges. The 
hall was crammed with spectators, for the persons 
concerned in the suit were people of high position. 
It was a question concerning a deed of trust, and 
the lawsuit was against the said Doge, or rather 
against his wife, who in fact sat on the bench of 
the accused a short distance from the plaintiff, 
wrapped in her mantle. She was a " woman of a 
certain age," writes Goethe, "of a noble appear- 
ance ; she had a handsome face, but a severe ex- 
pression, and a certain air of melancholy ! " The 


-great poet adds that the Venetians were proud that 
their Princess could be compelled to appear before 
the judges and the people in her own Palace. 
Goethe did not suspect that the austere and noble- 
looking ladj had once been a rope-dancer. 

Paolo Eenier died on February 18th, 1780, and 
was privately interred in the Church of San Nicolo 
dei Tolentini, as he did not wish the carnival to be 
saddened by a funeral. There was a feehng of 
dislike and discontent felt by his contemporaries 
towards Renier, nor was his grave watered with 
those tears which generally accompany even 
moderately virtuous men to their final homes. 
When the Doge was at his last gasp, his detractors 
did not restrain their calumnies. " The country 
was rejoicing," writes Ballarini, " because the 
Doge was dead ! " The grasping avarice of his 
wife injured Eenier, who was of a generous nature. 
The old Doge allowed her to manage, and she even 
let out the pavement of the della Paglia bridge, as 
far as the gate della Carta ^ for artists' shops, and 
she obtained besides 1,000 zecchini for letting the 
Priorato della Ga^ di Bio, Margaret died at mid- 
night of January 11th, 1817, leaving many pious 
legacies, to salve her conscience ; she left her many 
jewels to a niece of her husband's, Margaret Eenier. 
In 1789, when Venice, feeble and powerless, did 
not or would not hear the threatening sounds of the 
coming tempest which resounded from the Alps, 
Lodovico Manin, the weakest and most incapable of 


all those who had ever worn the Ducal cap in 
Venice, ascended the throne of the Doges. Was it 
the irony of fate which placed such a man at the 
head of the State in times of such dire peril? 
Certainly something mysterious, like an inauspicious 
omen, must have agitated the mind of Elizabeth 
Manin when she learned her husband's election. 
Note the following lines written by a devoted 
admirer of the new Doge : 

" The triumph of the Doge must be somewhat 
damped by his wife, who, by some womanish 
singularity, is not pleased at becoming Dogaressa. 
She would not appear at any of the feasts, but has 
hidden herself, according to some, at Murano, 
others say she has taken refuge in her steward's 
house ! " 

Elizabeth was afterwards compelled to make a 
virtue of necessity and to return to the Ducal 
Palace. This good, simple, and modest lady died 
four years later at Treviso. She maintained amidst 
the sufferings of a long illness that serene firmness 
of mind about which he who composed a Latin 
oration to the last Dogaressa spoke truly, although 
his style was bad. " Illud sane celebranduniy* wrote 
the flatterer, " quod per longos eosque jplurimos annos 
acerha valitudine correpta, nunquam aut vi deterrita 
aut languoribus oppressa, semper naturce dehilitationi 
superior, et magnitudine animi constans visafm'tJ' 

And death came to her at the right moment, for 
she was spared the pain of witnessing the ruin of 


her country, and worse still, her, husband's weak- 
ness. The Republic, ignorant of its fate, was 
hastening towards its end, and whilst in France 
the people broke forth into sanguinary riots, and 
shouted around the heads of a gigantic tyranny 
fierce protestations regarding human rights, Venice 
continued her usual luxurious life of pleasure and 
luxury. Even in the fatal year 1797, the last of 
its existence, the Eepublic issued decrees for the 
ceremonies to be observed at the funeral of the 
Dogaressa ; and Guiseppe Ferrari, the Doge's 
knight, recalling ancient customs, indicated the 
rules to be observed where marriages were cele- 
brated in the Ducal family. Some of the last acts 
of the Venetian Republic concern the Dogaressa. 
Let us pause before this last pageantry of a great- 
ness drawing to its end. 

''Directly after the new Doge had been elected," 
wrote the Ducal knight, " the Signora appointed 
a secretary of the Senate to betake himself in a 
gondola with two equerries to the Palace of the 
Dogaressa, where, preceded by the house-steward 
and the domestics, he was conducted to the Hall of 
Ambassadors. There, seated in the place of 
honour, and surrounded by her ladies and gentle- 
men, the Dogaressa replied with courteous words 
to the homage of the Secretary, who afterwards 
took leave ! " 

" At the Ducal f^tes," gravely continues the 
Gerimomale, *' the Dogaressa shall, if she likes, put 



on the mantle ; she must wear on her head a veil^ 
reaching to the ground ; she must always occupy a 
place of honour, but to the left of his Sereno 
Highness. She is to be accompanied by a few- 
relations besides the persons of her suite. On 
grand public occasions the Masters, wearing patrician 
dresses, will go to meet her, and the ladies will be at 
the foot of the staircase, with the necessary escort of 
torch-bearers, oflBcers, and servants. When she is 
at church N. N. and H. H. shall go to the shore, 
and the ladies remain outside the church-door, 
and the same order to be observed when return- 
ing. At a ball, the dancing and music must al- 
ways stop until the Dogaressa has reached her 
place, which will always be a post of honour. . . . 
She will, on such occasions, use two boats, her 
own being adorned with mirrors, cabins, and various 
embellishments, &c. ; four esquires, two preceding 
her, and two holding up the train of her dress. 
And when the Princess gives dinner-parties, she 
shall sit on a raised dais, wearing her veil and 
mantle, and she will eat off gold plate." 

Whilst the Eepublic, formerly so glorious at Le- 
panto, toyed with such trifles, in Paris the heads of 
the King and Queen fell beneath the knife of the 

Let us refer once again to the solemn rites which 
were to be observed at the obsequies of the Doga- 
ressa. They are transcribed in the Gerimomaley and 
actually bear the date of 1797. " In the event of 


her (Dogaressa's) death, she is to be clad in a gold 
mantle, white gloves on her hands, and a coif on 
her head ; she is to be covered with the veil she 
generally wore on State occasions. She is to be laid 
out in the principal room of her apartment, with a 
cross on her limbs, and four lighted torches around 
her. She is to be transported that same night, after 
midnight, to the Church of St. Mark, accompanied 
by only one priest, a clerk, and four torches, and she 
is to be placed upon the catafalque, which will be 
gorgeously decorated, with steps and cupola, and 
illuminated by about sixty torches and four hundred 
short thick candles. The church will be hung with 
black, and the coat of arms of the lady's family will 
be suspended from the pillars, also draped with 
black ; the altars will be supplied with wax tapers, 
and Mass will be said all that morning as well as 
the previous day.*' The Mass will be sung, the 
funeral oration pronounced, and the bier will be 
transported to the church, where is the family 
tomb. '' The procession is opened by the flags and 
banners of the schools to which the defunct be- 
longed, that of the Saint of the parish, then follow 
the congregations, the Chapter of the place, those of 
Castello and of St. Mark and other brotherhoods, 
lastly the catafalque, preceded and followed by thirty 
torch-bearers; then shall come the Court of her 
Serene Highness, beginning with the knight, the 
steward, esquires, train-bearers, agents, major- 
domos, and ending with the cooks, valets, grooms, 


boatmen — none of them in mourning. The Hos- 
pitals close the procession. . . . Arrived at the 
church, the catafalque will be placed upon the bier, 
and the Vicar will pronounce absolution, then it is 
raised again, carried round the church, singing the 
Miserere, and then the burial will follow." 

But Venice never again witnessed such funeral 
ceremonies. The last Dogaressa had slept for five 
years in the tomb. Instead of providing for the 
obsequies of future Dogaressas, the rulers should 
have attended to the needs of their endangered 
country, and if they could not prevent its destruc- 
tion, they should at least have tended its last 
moments with more decorum. 

A few months later, these plans for vain cere- 
monies were succeeded by treacherous compromises, 
infamous concessions, and impious bargains. In a 
short time the standard of St. Mark fell without 
hope of restoration, for only banners that are bathed 
in the blood of their defenders are ever likely to 
resume their former proud position. 










Molmentl, Pompeo, GherHrdo 
The dogaressa